Video Gaming (EL250 -- January 2006)

History of Video Games

Links to basic reference material and resources.

Wikipedia's History of Computer and Video Games.
Bear in mind that Wikipedia is a community encyclopedia that anyone can edit -- including people who don't know what they're talking about, and those who passionately believe something without actually having the facts to back up their points. Thus, I consider a Wikipedia to be a good enough reference for routine class assignments and informal discussions, but for research papers or formal presentations you should look for more authoritative sources.

PBS's The Video Game Revolution: History of Gaming
Requires flash. Not a whole lot of data, but the timeline gives a good overview.

Computer Game Timeline
More detailed, but still just a list of milestones.

Permalink | 2 Jan 2006 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Red vs. Blue (ep. 1)

Another example of machinima -- movies made by using environments created for videogames.

Red vs. Blue (ep. 1)

A variation of a theme explored in countless stories about toys that have lives of their own ("Toy Story," Winnie the Pooh, The Nutcracker, The Tin Soldier, etc.) The movie Tron explored in depth the related conceit that computer programs have lives of their own, told through the perspective of characters sucked into a computer. The play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, by Tom Stoppard, is an existentialist representation of Shakespeare's Hamlet, as told from the perspective of two bit players (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern) who are among the many pawns used by the more powerful characters.

On this page, add a brief comment that presents a thoughtful response to this video.

Permalink | 2 Jan 2006 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

My Trip to Liberty City

What assumptions about videogames do you find challenged, or reaffirmed, in this short movie?

On this page, add a brief comment that presents a thoughtful response to this video.

Permalink | 2 Jan 2006 | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)

Strong Bad on Videogames

Requires Macromedia Flash.

Our assignment is to watch Video Games. Stick around after the animation ends -- there will be four more things to do. Sample all four of them, and then choose one to investigate in depth.

Note: If you've never heard of the character Srong Bad from, you might first want to watch Strong Bad answer a letter from "The Yellow Dart," who wants him to write an English paper for him.

On this page, post a question or observation prompted by what you just saw. Then, post an in-depth comment on one or several of the following pages: Secret Collect, Strongbadzone, Thy Dungeonman, and Rhino Feeder.

Permalink | 2 Jan 2006 | TrackBack (0)

A Rape in Cyberspace

Julian Dibbell's essay on how an online society in a text-based MUD ("Multiple User Dungeon") reacted to a disruptive influence.

As with all assigned readings, I'm asking you to post a brief "agenda item" that includes a quotation (or transcript, or a screenshot if you can manage one) and a brief statement of what you think is worth talking about. Then, I'm asking you to post responses to 2-4 peer "agenda items" on this topic, and then after you have done so, return to your own blog, and post a reflective entry that demonstrates how your reading of peer blog entries has affected your understanding of the assigned text.

For additional context, here's an article that compares text-based gaming worlds with 3-D graphical worlds: "Keyboard is Mightier than Sword"

Permalink | 3 Jan 2006 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

New Games Journalism

Read Amer Ajami's GameSpot review of Jedi Outcast (three parts), and compare it to Ian "Always Black" Shanahan's "Bow, N*gger." This article, State of Play, will help you pin down the differences. I am far more interested in the issues raised by Shanahan's piece than the precise, technical analysis presented by Ajami. Ajami's review is perfectly good for what it is -- an assessment of a commercial product, useful for those who are considering buying it. On the other hand, Shanahan's piece opens up a huge array of emotional and intellecutal possibilities.

Permalink | 3 Jan 2006 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Storytelling in Videogames

A conference panel I put together about 5 years ago. The featured speaker was Scott Adams, the creator of the first commercial computer game sold for home PCs. The full audio of the 2-hr panel is available for download, and a full transcript is available as well.

Storytelling in Video Games

Permalink | 3 Jan 2006 | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)

Interactive Fiction

To understand what Adams was talking about, you'll have to look more closely at the genre of interactive fiction.

Read Game. There are about 7 or 8 pages to this article. An excellent introduction to the genre.

Read this introduction to interactive fiction.

Play this annotated version of "Colossal Cave Adventure".

Play along with the annotation, and try to get across the crystal bridge. (Gameplay tips: You'll need to get past the snake, first! Playing IF absolutely requires you to create a map. (Here be hints and tips for Adventure.)

Once you've crossed the crystal bridge, keep playing for as long as the game holds your interest. (I've learned that some people get addicted to this kind of game, while others simply can't stand it.)

Permalink | 3 Jan 2006 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)


What issues are raised by this short film?


Permalink | 3 Jan 2006 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

New Games Journalism II

Read and blog a thoughtful response to one of the other examples in Keith Stuart's list of Ten Unmissable Examples of New Games Journalism.

Permalink | 4 Jan 2006 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Koster, A Theory of Fun (Finish)

Permalink | 6 Jan 2006 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wong, ''Life after the Video Game Crash''

Update (4 Jan, 3:20pm): At the moment, there seems to be a problem with, but here ar links to Google's caches of page 1 and page 2. (Images may not come up on those pages, but I blogged one of those images.)

Permalink | 6 Jan 2006 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Laurel, Utopian Entrepreneur

Read the whole book. It's less than 120 pages.

The last time I taught this book, my student Johanna Dreyfuss wrote:

I have to applaud Brenda Laurel for her insights into why young girls donít usually play video games, but I think she sells boys a little short. I asked my boyfriend what his ideal video game would incorporate and said that he would rather have a fantastic story than spectacular graphics. It would have in depth character development Ė almost as though he were playing a novel.

Permalink | 9 Jan 2006 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Juul, Half Real (Intro, Ch 1, Ch 2)

Permalink | 10 Jan 2006 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Juul, Half Real (Ch 3)

Permalink | 11 Jan 2006 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Juul, Half Real (Ch 4)

Permalink | 12 Jan 2006 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Juul, Half Real (Ch 5 & Ch 6)

Permalink | 13 Jan 2006 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Evan Reynolds on IF

Color in a Lurid World: Presentation on Visualization and IF Part 1

Why do you think the latest Harry Potter book sold more than 2 million copies opening day, but IF titles could barely scrape 100,000 in 1985?
Permalink | 17 Jan 2006 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Leslie Rodriquez: Who Wears the Pants in Lara Croft's House?

Roamer's Zone: Online Presentation

Obviously there was something offensive about Croft and it wasn't just her appearance, it was her whole package, guns and all. For my paper I am focusing on the feminist critique of Croft and its validity based on feminist idealism.
Permalink | 17 Jan 2006 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)