#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

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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.

Popular Ludology No.0 – Call for Submissions

158744-16558-doktor-sleeplessTL;DR

Popular Ludology is now accepting submissions of papers for an issue ‘zero’ to test the waters and ensure that there’s sufficient interest to continue with the effort. Provided you have direct experience of game design and publication in a commercial sense (even Indie) or have academic/scientific qualifications you can submit a  paper (see below).

The theme for the first issue is: “Defining & classifying games,” though you do not have to submit on that theme, it would be preferred.

More information is below.

Submit to grim AT postmort DOT demon DOT co DOT uk with [PopLud] in the title.

Submissions for issue zero are open until JULY 31st 2015

Popular Ludology

POPULAR: [ATTRIBUTIVE] (Of cultural activities or products) intended for or suited to the taste, understanding, or means of the general public rather than specialists or intellectuals.

LUDOLOGY: The study of games and gaming, especially video games.

Popular Ludology is an attempt to set up a new Ludology/Game Studies journal with a focus on positive, practical measures to understand and improve games, as games. Existing Ludology/Game Studies groups and journals tend to fixate on literary and critical theory and, as such, provide little or nothing of use from a game design or scientific perspective.

We want Popular Ludology to be an accessible, readable, useful, genuinely academic, scientific and practical resource for game developers and engaged game fans to understand and improve the medium as an effective tool for enjoyment and storytelling.

Submissions

You should fit into one of two categories to submit a paper.

  • Category 1: You have practical experience of game design and publication and have successfully, commercially, published at least one game.
  • Category 2: You are an academic or scientist with a degree or higher educational attainment.

Popular Ludology is not limited to video games. If you have research or practical experience relating to tabletop RPGs, board games, card games or other such recreational games of similar ilk (excluding gambling) you are welcome, indeed encouraged, to submit.

You should be able to provide evidence of your qualifications or publication history. If you wish to submit anonymously you must satisfy the editor of your bona-fides.

Papers may be of any length but try to keep the total file-size reasonably low (<5mb).

Popular Ludology strives for openness and readability. Try – so much as is possible – to avoid jargon and keep to an accessible reading level (Grade 12, High School).

Papers should include a short 1-2 paragraph summary at the beginning.

Papers should be submitted in RTF format if at all possible, otherwise DOC (but not DOCX) is also acceptable. This requirement is to ensure more transferable formatting.

Papers should be submitted in point-size 10 font, with titles of sections and subsections in bold descending in point-size (20/14/12/10) as necessary to show sections and subsections.

Tables, images and other such visual data should be submitted as attachments separately to the document,rather than embedded in the document.

Papers should fit into one of two categories.

  • Category 1: The relation of direct practical experience (these are the papers to be accepted from game designers). These will not be held to such a high standard but their worth is in the transfer of experience. Claims and ideas presented in these are to be considered for future examination.
  • Category 2: Academic and scientific studies or the relating of such information to the audience. Include proper citations, avoid speculation and bias. Avoid foregone conclusions. Stick to the facts and the relation of those facts or relay how you discovered facts. Minimise opinion. Original research is greatly encouraged.

The Process

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.

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.

A month will be given for papers to be accepted.

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

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

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

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.

Voting procedures will be made public in the journal itself.

Organisation

Popular Ludology’s founding principles can be summed up thusly:

  • Hard science, hard data.
  • Usefulness.
  • Openness.
  • Experience.

The existing procedures have already come under some fire, and the use of Ludology as a term has been both questioned and supported. In order to get the project going I feel it necessary to be somewhat dictatorial, but I should also explain why I have made the decisions that I have.

Firstly, yes, this publication is motivated by Gamergate and in response to groups such as DiGRA. Throughout the year-or-so that Gamergate has been ongoing I and many other gaming fans, publishers, developers academics and scientists have been shocked and appalled to discover the poor state of academia and the existing structures when it comes to studying games. Many of us have lamented, nearly from the start, that a better alternative is needed. One wing of that effort looks like it will focus around League for Gamers becoming more supportive of academic and scientific efforts and it is my hope that PopLud will become another wing of that. However, I hope it will become more than simply a response to the problems we see and the aim is to create a genuinely useful resource, which is more than simply a reaction. People who do publish in or for what we consider to be ‘bad’ journals and organisations are welcome to submit, their papers will be considered on merit.

Secondly, the decision was made to allow papers from non-academics for several reasons. I have no academic qualifications myself, nor have many of the critics of the existing structures, but our criticisms and reviews have highlighted many serious problems and deserve to be taken seriously. This has underlined existing issues with ‘echo chambers’ in these sorts of fields of study (and the fields from which participation sometimes comes) and has, in my opinion, demonstrated a need to break that circle. Designers have useful, experience which people can relate to. They may not be able to tell you precisely why something has worked, but they can show it has worked and relate things like marketing data and studies from their experience which is useful both to researchers and other designers.

The decision to go with an open process relates to this. We want the journal to be accessible and useful and to avoid the aforementioned echo chamber. It is worth entering a note of caution however, in that this open process superficially resembles that of the ADA journal and the ‘fembot collective’, and has singularly failed to solve those issues in that case. Given that ADA has an explicit bias in its research goals and philosophy and we do not, hopefully this approach can work in this instance. Researchers need to understand their audience and their subject, something which the span of Gamergate has shown, in abundance, that they currently do not.

The decision to stick with ‘Ludology’ was not one which I personally supported. In my opinion the terms ‘Ludology’ and ‘Game Studies’ have become tainted. They do not, primarily, seem to be about games at all, rather a great deal of effort seems to be put into lit/crit theory, gender studies and opinion pieces about representation, race etc with little or no statistical or scientific backing. The consensus amongst interested parties appears to be that the terms ‘Ludology’ and ‘Game Studies’ are worth fighting for and that the more genuine and useful research attached to the name the better. So I bow to that consensus.

The Future

If this enterprise is successful, I intend to bow out of the editorship by Issue 3 and to hand off to a new, elected editor from applicants, voted for by those who have participated. Editorship terms should, in my opinion, run for a year or so or be removed by a 75% vote of no confidence. New editors should be approved by a 50% or more vote (from those participating). Again, all in my opinion but these are things that remain to be thrashed out.

If you have any questions, queries or worries please address them to the comments, or to the email address provided earlier.

#Gamergate Building a DiGRA Alternative, Part 2

2613913-doktor_sleepless_m__001_000aHad some useful and interesting feedback from people, so let’s lay down some slightly more concrete proposals and begin to prepare to make this ‘a thing’.

It has been made pretty clear to me from a bunch of people that they’re unwilling to cede the ground of coming up with a new term other than ludology/game studies and that they would rather see the term being somewhat reclaimed away from crit/lit theory.

So, OK, what the hell, why not :)

First a reiteration…

Goals

  1. Preserving and communicating practical game-maker experience and examining it.
  2. Providing objective, scientific, academic, statistical and experiential insight into aspects of game design and experience.
  3. Providing an alternative to the current ludology/game studies paradigm of literary/critical theory fixed intently on practical and useful analysis, study, information and investigation.
  4. To foster a practical and pragmatic space for the exchange of useful and confirmed information for game design.

Speaking for myself, I just want to get this started and then step back. It’s my hope that groups like League for Gamers, and various websites, may take on, store, present and replicate what’s produced and that it can eventually become a respectable source of useful information for developers, academics and interested consumers.

I recognise that I don’t have the academic chops to make this into a respected enterprise, but hopefully do have enough ‘oomph’ to get it going. My intention will be to hand off to someone else in the future.

This will also have to break free of Gamergate, but GG has provided the impetus and illustrated the need.

Base Principles

The journal needs to be established on some principles to ensure that it doesn’t easily fall into the same problems as other outlets have. We don’t want it to be an ivory tower, an echo chamber or a positive feedback loop. We also want to make the contents as accessible as possible and as supportive as possible.

As such I think principles of openness would need to be core.

  • Open source.
  • Open to commentary and engagement.
  • Open processes.

All, at least, so much as is practically possible anyway.

The most important principle is that it should be fixed upon providing practical, useful information and insight, applicable to creating games. Better games. Videogames, tabletop games, LARP games, card games and more.

The Process

So here’s how I envision things working.

  1. Day 1: The editor puts out a call for submissions on a selected topic.
  2. Submissions are accepted relating to that topic (or rebutting on previous articles), either from developers/designers speaking from experience (confirmed commercial release) or academics with appropriate qualifications (this being more to do with the process and discipline than specifics).
  3. Submissions are subjected to basic scrutiny (Is it well written? Do citations lead anywhere? Does it pass the smell test? Does the author qualify?)
  4. Day 30: The selected articles are consolidated in a relatively easily transferable format (RTF?) by the editor and put out publicly wherever it can be – the personal outlets of contributors to start with.
  5. The material is then open for review, correction and challenge – openly, by anyone and this feedback is discussed and any necessary corrections have the opportunity to be made over the following month.
  6. Day 60: With corrections and changes made the journal proper is ‘published’, in much the same way as at day 30, but in a finalised and corrected form to be archived and kept.

Feedback has been incredibly useful so far, so let me know what you think. I realise much of this is unconventional, but I think that’s part of the point. The way things are being done isn’t working.

Also, what about Popular Ludology or Practical Ludology as a title?

#Gamergate Building a DiGRA Alternative

158736-174429-doktor-sleeplessAs we all know, groups like DiGRA are a problem.

These are pseudo-academic platforms presenting opinion as fact with no rigour, no attempt at objectivity and seemingly much more about pushing particular agendas rather than determining what is true/correct, or what is useful to people who make games or want to make games.

We desperately need an alternative.

Building an alternative will not be an easy matter and so I think it is best to start relatively small and idealistic, and then to let things change over time as needed, allowing such an attempt to adapt and fulfil its role – provided that it doesn’t lose sight of its core principles.

As I say, this is a daunting task but one I think that can be accomplished. It just needs a little push and I intend to give it the good ol’ college try.

In essence we’re creating a new field here, as ‘ludology’ is dominated by extremely soft humanities and the aforementioned activist pseudo-academia. This would be something more akin to hard science or engineering, dedicated to providing practical information and experience and sharing it amongst game creators with the stated aim of improving games and game creation as a whole.

‘Ludics’ maybe? I don’t know… ludogineering? It’s something that needs to be distinct from ‘ludology’ or ‘game studies’ which are grounded in literary criticism and critical theory and, so, don’t provide anything of actual use.

So the goals of the group/discipline would be.

  1. Preserving and enumerating game-maker experience.
  2. Providing genuine, objective, scientific, academic and experiential insight into aspects of game design and experience.
  3. Providing a genuine academic alternative to DiGRA and their ilk, rooted in harder science and practical purpose.

Contributors must have:

  1. Relevant practical experience in the field of fames (a game maker with a commercial release, a board/card or RPG designer).
  2. A high level of educational attainment in a relevant field (a degree in hard science, statistics, anthropology, sociology, psychology)
  3. Their entries must at least strive for objectivity – creator anecdote being something of an exception, if clearly stated.

I would also suggest that all material produced as this enterprise gets under way be considered open source, perhaps under a creative commons license allowing people to reformat, freely distribute or even to sell independently or as part of larger treatise etc in order to help support projects and help to make the work worthwhile for people who contribute.

I would hope to get groups like League For Gamers on board and to get the support of independent gaming news sites to reproduce the entries in some form (another reason for going open source).

As a way of starting this off from humble beginnings I would suggest that it begin with an open call for ~1,000-1,500 word essays/notes on a topic, every couple of weeks or every month, just to see if there’s the interest or that the interest can be built up. This would, then, form a short ‘journal’ of sorts, on a particular topic or aspect of game design that would-be game designers or existing game designers could tap into or look at.

Now, obviously this is starting from #Gamergate, since the impetus to provide an alternative to DiGRA that is more genuinely game and design based comes from there, but it would not remain (or even really start out as) a #Gamergate thing. Much like Based Gamer, Deepfreeze and the various indie games sites that have sprung up, it would carve its own path to become something more long lived.

It should also seek to move into testing and confirming (or debunking) its own hypotheses, conducting surveys and eventually providing harder data.

  1. Would you be interested in reading such a ‘journal’?
  2. Would you be interested in contributing to such a ‘journal’?
  3. Would you like to see a more practical, pragmatic and useful field of game study?
  4. Do you have a better idea for a name than ‘Ludics’? (It mixes Greek and Latin, so is ‘bad’, perhaps ‘paichnidics’ instead? – from the Greek ‘paichnídi’, meaning toy, game or trick, and already used as part of the Greek for ‘video game console’)*.
  5. Would you be interested in contributing to a first attempt, perhaps on the topic ‘What is a game and what is the appeal of games?’

Let me know.

I can be contacted via the comments here, on Twitter (@grimachu) or via email – grim AT postmort DOT demon DOT co DOT uk.

*I can’t for the life of me work out how to spell this phonetically in English, or pronounce it from these letters. Peuch-a-nidyics is the closest I can get).