Video Games & the Power of Narrative (thehumbleoscar & ironreaver)

Picucci, Marcello A. “When Video Games Tell Stories: A Model of Video Game Narrative Architectures.” Caracteres: Estudios Culturales Y Criticos de la Esfera Digital 3.2 (2014): 99-116.

In this article, Picucci analyzes the importance of narrative in video games and the various forms that narrative takes and has tkaen throughout video game history. He discusses that video games have had hints of narrative since their earliest days, usually taking forms that were fairly simple and direct. For example, he references Nintendo’s 1981 arcade classic, Donkey Kong, in which the main protagonist is seen stealing the princess, thus prompting the hero to begin a mission to rescue her. He then goes on to discuss the various forms that narratives are presented in modern video games. These are pre-established, disccovery, sandbox, and computer generated. He continues on by defining each of these forms and providing examples of them in various video games.

Cuddy, Luke, and William Irwin. “BioShock’s Meta Narrative: What BioShock Teaches the Gamer About Gaming.” BioShock and Philosophy: Irrational Game, Rational Book. Sussex: Wiley Blackwell, 2015. 3-14.

In this chapter, Cuddy explores how video game narratives, and in this case specifically, the narrative presented in BioShock, affect and enrapture players. He discusses the intense psychological reactions that games can cause in players and references both one of the main turning points in the story of BioShock and the act of harvesting little sisters as examples. He then goes on to discuss what methods the developers used to make these things so visceral, from the loss of control the player experiences to the violent nature presented. Finally, he discusses the illusion of choice that is presented to players in video games, and then compares this to how BioShock gets around this somewhat by offering multiple endings that are affected by the choices the player makes throughout the game.

Schneider, Edward F. “Death with a Story.” 10 Jan. 2006

In this article, Schneider goes into the effects narrative heavy and non narrative first person shooters have on gamers. He looks into this issue to try to bring more information to the violent games/violent people debate. In his paper Schneider finds that first person shooters that have no narrative (such as Doom and Quake) have little effect on people and they merely see the games as a simple shoot things that move endeavor. First person shooters with narrative, however, pull gamers in, make them rationalize with characters, puts the violence into context, and actually makes them feel and be aware of the violence. This in turn, Schneider states, does create a situation where a gamer may be more susceptible to violent tendencies because they’ve actually immersed themselves in such situations in their games and must rationalize/have it rationalized for them. It’s a very interesting look into the power that stories and narrative have in gaming.

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An Overview of Horror and the Occult (lilicecilia & patriciaoldani)

By, M. K. (1991, Nov 08). “Horrors! or, why people love being scared.” New York Times

This article discusses a novel, The Thrill of Fear, written by Walter Kendrick about society’s love of horror and the occult. The article was helpful in determining an original motive for the obsession with horror dating back to the 18th century. With this article we were able to make discoveries about the emergence of horror that we did not know before having to do with the fear of death, and the transformation of death into something predictable and possibly even avoidable. The article led us to believe that horror was used as a coping mechanism for Western cultures to face death head on and overcome it through the stories.

Cherry, Brigid. Horror. London: Routledge, 2009.

This novel had a lot of background information on the horror genre, especially in regards to film. We mostly looked at the first part of the book dealing with the form and genre of horror. In this part of the novel we were also given a list of different types of horror genres that pertain to different types of people. That was very helpful as different types of horror are certainly appealing to different people. The novel helped us to understand how horror has been and continues to be used as a way of voicing opinions on social, cultural, and political issues. We were given many examples of horror films that had hidden social meanings that we were unaware of before, such as A Nightmare on Elm Street being representative of the dangers of the selfish parents from the “me generation” in the 70s. This novel also gave us information on why horror has lasted so many years and will continue to last for years to come. It has to do with the social and political meanings as well, because as they change so does the genre which makes it flexible and adaptable. The novel also reiterated that part of the novelty of horror is that it makes you feel afraid for your life in the safety or your own home or a theatre, which is quite paradoxical. Finally, this novel briefly touched on the issue of the violence and psychotic behavior that is seen in horror novels, films, and video games nowadays, and how it is creating violent tendencies in young adults as they are the prime audience for horror. This insight was really interesting as it is a relevant topic that is discussed frequently in today’s society, including our class.

Straub, P. (1979, Apr 01). “People are talking about: Boom…in horror.” Vogue, 169, 272-272, 308.

This article presented another possible motive behind the obsession with horror films: childhood. All of the arguments that we found in our research are so different, yet each one is relevant and plausible. This argument had to do with society’s inclination to revisit our childhoods in some way or another, in this particular case with horror. It pointed out that children are vulnerable and will believe anything, from ghosts to Santa Clause, and therefore we as adults use horror to recreate that vulnerability and gullibility. The article also reiterated that society has become increasingly enamored with horror and the occult.

“Why Do We Love Horror Films? A CU Professor Explains.” News Center. 22 Mar.2013.

This video is an interview with an English professor and horror novelist at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He voiced yet another motive for the obsession with horror, one that is different from all of the others. Professor Jones believes that horror stories satisfy an innate need within our human nature to fear something. He argues that hundreds of years ago we had disease and wild animals to fear daily; our lives were never truly safe back then. Today we live in a society that is relatively safe, and Jones argues that we created fictional monsters and terrors to fill that need of fear. This was a particularly interesting insight, as it had never crossed our minds when thinking about horror. Once we had happened upon it though, it made a lot of sense and helped to better our argument.

Modern Game Culture Debates (venusgrace17 and lereynolds1996)

Chess, Shira, and Adrienne Shaw. “A Conspiracy of Fishes, Or, How We Learned to Stop Worrying About #GamerGate and Embrace Hegemonic Masculinity.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 59.1 (2015): 208-20.

This article details one instance within the GamerGate Controversy in which an academic discussion of diversity in the gaming industry at a Digital Games Research Association conference held in August 2014 was used as evidence by supporters of  GamerGate of a conspiracy to forcibly inject feminist principles into the gaming industry. The transcript of the conference was used as a means to rally those who felt attacked by feminist social critics and justify harassment of anyone who took part in such criticism of the gaming industry. The authors of this article, who were both present at the conference and for the proliferation of this document, view the conspiracy theories associated with GamerGate as failure to understand that feminism is not widely accepted, that games research is not well-funded and incapable of forming any kind of overthrow of the gaming industry, and that criticism is simply meant to criticize and not to oppress.

Gjoni, Eron. Web log post. “TheZoePost.” WordPress, 16 Aug. 2014. Web.

This blog entails a total of five articles, all dealing with Zoe Quinn and her former boyfriend Eron Gjoni’s dating history. Gjoni’s purpose for the blog was to expose Quinn’s infidelity to him. It details a timeline of their relationship and screenshots from conversations on Facebook, Tumblr, texts, etc. Gjoni essentially exhibits evidence that Quinn had been having sexual relations with men from both the       gaming industry and gaming journalism. Recently, Gjoni has edited the latest post stating that he never intended for Quinn to be subjected to abuse that the Gamergate controversy began due to his blog’s release.

Schott, Gareth R., and Kirsty R. Horrell. “Girl Gamers and their Relationship with the Gaming Culture.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 6.4 (2000): 36-53.

The introduction to this study details some of the history of masculinity in the gaming industry, which began as marketing exclusively towards young boys and games developed only by men “based on their own tastes and cultural assumptions”, that  helped to maintain a male audience. Females were for the most part not protagonists, and when they were they were portrayed undesirably. Today, women have in some ways broken into the industry and games are becoming less gendered towards men, but problems still exist. The study itself finds that girls and women playing video games in their homes are often relegated to the role of “watcher” of male family members who believe themselves more capable and experienced.

Todd, Cherie. “COMMENTARY: GamerGate and Resistance to the Diversification of Gaming Culture.” Women’s Studies Journal 29.1 (2015): 64-67.

This article maps the development of GamerGate and also explains the atmosphere in the gaming industry that led to GamerGate. It sets up that the proportion of female gamers is increasing and that games are becoming more culturally inclusive, but that the existing audience is resistant to letting women in and respond to attempts at diversification with harassment and accusation. Women’s experiences and criticisms are often overlooked or labeled as reasons why women should stay out of the gaming industry all together. The author points out that gaming companies, which are made up of significantly less female than male employees, are conducive to these problems. She concludes that GamerGate has brought attention to what women have been long trying to point out as problematic.

Video Game Genres (griffinhanson and harleyquinntwinn)

Cuddy, Luke, and Irwin, William. Bioshock and Philosophy: Irrational Game, Rational Book. Sussex: Wiley Blackwell, 2015.

In this book, Cuddy explains the cognitive science and philosophy involved in making and playing Bioshock and how it affects the player. He addresses how Bioshock employs real-world tactics (like propaganda; you can see it all over the place involving Ryan) to influence you; the game’s story also involves topics like Marxism, morality, feminism, as well as political decision-making and the importance of autonomy. Cuddy explores Bioshock’s philosophy which embraces the theories of Ayn Rand (especially in terms of corporate power), Aristotle, Plato, Dewey, and Leibniz (among other influential philosophers and writers). Cuddy also brings up the concept of “meta-narrative” and how it can affect the player and their gameplay by incorporating the player’s personal beliefs and playing into their emotions, which influences how they play the game.

Wolf, Mark J.P. Video Game Explosion: A History From PONG to Playstation and Beyond.Westport: Greenwood Press, 2008.

In this book, Wolf gives a comprehensive history of video games (starting in 1985) that spans all the way from the days of Atari to today, where video games have become immensely advanced. He talks about how Nintendo revived the American video game industry after the unsuccessful Halceyon system (around Atari time) and how developers and companies (like Playstation and Xbox) have taken the reigns in recent history. Wolf goes into depth about many genres in chapter 38, where he gives a breakdown for each genre in his list. He also includes chapters dedicated solely to discussing the more popular genres that require more explanation like First Person Shooters (FPSs), Role-Playing Adventure games (RPGs), and Independent/Art games.

Lee, Donghun, and Linda J. Schoendstedt. “Comparison of ESports and Traditional Sports Consumption Motives.” ICHPER — SD Journal of Research in Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport & Dance 6.2 (2011): 39-44. Print.

This article approaches the topic of eSports, or competitive video games, and their rise in popularity during the 21st century. The main focus is that of what factors motivate people to spend their time on either participating in or watching eSports. Opinions were also collected of both eSports fans and more typical sports fans in order to compare the aspects of the two that lead to involvement. It was determined that the main attributes of eSports that gamers find attractive are competition and drive to have skill. Some fans also find eSports to be more interactive and engaging than regular sports.

Online Community Fiction (cecimoff and chrisdubos)

“SCP Foundation.” SCP Foundation. < http://www.scp-wiki.net/ >.

The SCP Foundation provides an excellent example of the phenomenon of divergent fandom. The collaborative community functions as a self-contained fandom, where the participants in the fandom are the writers, editors, and audience. This wiki displays how inter-fandom rules govern the ways that fiction is created when there is no “primary” source other than the primary reason for the website existing. The Foundation is similar to r/nosleep in that it is community driven, spontaneously created, and has accrued a massive cult following. The subject matter of the articles that can be found on the Foundation’s website are similar in theme and genre to the materials discussed in this course, and influences from some of our core texts can be found in specific SCPs given.

Benjamin, Walter, “The Work Of Art In the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. Illuminations: Essays and Reflection. Ed. Hannah Arendt. Trans. Harry Zohn. New York: Schocken Books, 1968.

This famous work is massively influential in the fields of cultural studies and Marxist philosophy. In it, Benjamin argues about the future of art and mass media in general using film as a specific example of a medium that empowers the masses. This argument can be extended to the Internet, which is an even more easily accessible and utile medium for expression.

Falzone, P. J.. “The Final Frontier Is Queer: Aberrancy, Archetype and Audience Generated Folklore in K/S Slashfiction”. Western Folklore 64.3/4 (2005): 243–261.

This article, although dealing with a specific branch of fandom (specifically slash fiction in the Stark Trek fandoms) introduces an interesting idea about the evolutionary path of fandoms and the fandom community’s relationship with its primary source. Through the Star Trek fandom, this article details how a fandom community eventually evolves away from the source material and how fanfiction influences the development of other media. In conjunction with the Benjamin quote, the article speaks to the empowering nature of fanfiction and the creative license it lends to participants and consumers.

House of Leaves and Poe (dominykasbytautas and shanemichaelgordon)

Parker, Bridgette. “Haunted Goth-Pop.” Inception. 2005. Web. 20 Oct. 2015. <http://www.inception-magazine.com/winter03/reviews_haunted.htm&gt;.

This article mostly talks about Poe’s album Haunted and how it relates to her family’s past and as well as her brother’s book, House of Leaves. It informs that after their father passed away, they found a box of cassette tapes full of recordings of their father speaking. Poe uses samples of these tapes throughout her album and directly references her dad’s death in the song “Exploration B”. The article also continues by mentioning some direct correlations between Haunted and House of Leaves, such as using a song titled “5 and a ½ Minute Hallway” and many other similarities.

Peraino, Judith Ann. “Flights of Fancy.” Listening to the Sirens : Musical Technologies of Queer Identity From Homer to Hedwig. Berkeley: U of California, 2006.

Judith Peraino identifies and analyzes how music has been throughout history in shaping society and traditional roles, as they relate to gender and sexuality. At the same time, she makes specific references to different types and forms of music, breaking down the structure to show how harmonies, chordal structures and instrumentation work in bringing together the ideas of the artist. The referenced section, Flights of Fancy, focuses on power and its use within music, whether from hearty, bravado vocalizations to underutilized approaches to traditional instruments (such as the piano and violin). By bringing in references to modern day rock songs (like Bohemian Rhapsody) and comparing them to older-time operas, Periano makes it easy for the reader to see the similarities between the works and their respective themes.

Poe. Haunted. Poe. Rec. 31 Oct. 2000. Poe, 2000. CD.

The album, Haunted, was recorded and produced by Poe (Anne Danielewski) and released on October 31, 2000. The album is a tribute to her father and connected to her brother Mark Danielewski’s book House of Leaves. The album addresses themes such as death, loss, fear, feeling lost, and a multitude of others. The album is to be viewed as a soundtrack to House of Leaves, with both publications even featuring the same images inside of them.

The Whalestoe Letters (brookeborglum and caroline yong)

Cox, Katharine. “What Has Made Me? Locating Mother in the Textual Labyrinth of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves.Critical Survey 18.2, Friends and Family Figures in Contemporary Fiction (2006): 4-15.

This article focuses on how the confusing and changing layout of the labyrinth in Danielewski’s House of Leaves relates to the dysfunctional relationships between characters in the book. Specifically, Cox describes how Johnny’s perception of his mother develops as Johnny reads through The Navidson Record. Cox shows how Johnny’s analysis of Zampano’s writings allows him to reestablish memories of his mother in his mind. The article also details on how Johnny and Pelafina tie into mythological references (specifically about the Cretan labyrinth), relating them to certain characters in Greek myths. For instance Johnny is compared to Icarus while his mother, in context, refers herself as the “old Sibyl of Cumae.”

Pressman, Jessica. “House of Leaves: reading the networked novel.” Studies in American Fiction 34.1 (2006): 107+.

In this article, Pressman focuses on the supplementary texts and multimedia works which connect to Danielewski’s House of Leaves, such as The Whalestoe Letters, an album called Haunted, and different forums across the Internet. The article summarizes the background of The Whalestoe Letters and how the novella introduces two new narratives in the Foreword (Walden and Waheeda Wyrhta) as well as Pelafina Lièvre in the letters. Pressman also explains the placement of certain “clues,” such as altered typography, throughout the external texts for the purpose of analysis and decoding in order for readers to interact with the story outside of just reading the original book.

Timmer, Nicoline. “Johnny T.” Do You Feel It Too? The Post-Postmodern Syndrome in American Fiction at the Turn of the Millennium. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2010. 243-297. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Lawrence J. Trudeau. Vol. 360. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, 2014.

In this essay, Timmer discusses Danielewski’s use of multiple narrators connected to each other in House of Leaves while leaving room for an extra narrative— the voices and analyses of the readers. One specific section of the essay called “The Madmother in the Attic,” Timmer refers to The Whalestoe Letters in order to describe the relationship between Johnny Truant and his mother, Pelafina Lièvre. The essay zooms in on how Pelafina’s voice, through her letters to Johnny, impacts her son’s own prose style and uneasy emotional states. Timmer also touches on the possible burden Pelafina puts on her son whenever she expresses her intense need to hang onto Johnny while she is locked away in the Whalestoe Institute.

Decoding House of Leaves (haleyalxnder & zguang)

Hemmingson, Michael. “What’s beneath the Floorboards: Three Competing Metavoices in the Footnotes of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves.” Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 52.3 (2011): 272-87.

This article analyzes how the novel’s footnotes function as three different narrative voices competing for the reader’s attention: Truant’s, Zampano’s, and the nameless “editors” of the published book. It explains how these voices interact in the novel to create a work of Avant-pop critifiction, and how a full exploration of these footnotes are crucial to fully understanding the statements the novel is making, which includes its own theory and meta-criticism. This article is therefore extremely useful in understanding the ways in which the novel engages the reader and has the reader interact with its references, some of which take the reader to the Internet sphere, and therefore how the online communities dedicated to “de-coding” the novel are perhaps also an inevitable, and necessary, part of the novel itself.

McCaffery, Larry, and Sinda Gregory. “Haunted House—An Interview with Mark Z. Danielewski.” Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 44.2 (2003): 99-135.

In this interview, the author discusses his thoughts on the background, authenticity, and meaning behind House of Leaves. Since the novel contains a variety of visual details with multiple narratives, many readers continually ask for the true interpretation of the novel. The author simply responds that the thrill of uncovering a private meaning is far better than revealing everything outright. He also notes how there really is no sacred text, stating that everything we encounter involves some interpretation. In any discussion of House of Leaves, interpretation is a key element to consider. Not only does this source reveal the author’s original intention but it also grounds the reader in understanding the novel’s page-long footnotes and its confusing interplay of font, color, and space.

Pressman, Jessica. “House of Leaves: Reading the Networked Novel.” Studies in American Fiction 34.1 (2006): 107-28.

This article examines the relationship between House of Leaves and the age in which it was born: the digital age at the turn of the millennium. The author discusses how the novel inserts itself into a multimedia network that collectively makes up its narrative, through other texts, the novel’s website, and the musical album recorded by the author’s sister. This reading also details how the novel links itself with the contemporary “discourse network” of the Internet, directly tying itself to the topic of House of Leaves’ online fan base. It therefore is very useful in understanding the novel’s full impact on the reader through a range of multimedia methods, and how each of these gives a new layer to the narrative to create an interactive experience depicting “the digital context from which it emerges” (Pressman, pg. 122).

Frankenstein: Video Game Adaptations (coltonwadedempsey and ngarcia96)

Caruso, Norman. “The Video Game Crash of 1983.” The Gaming Historian. The Gaming Historian, 24 March 2011.

This article summarizes the effects of the Video Game Crash of 1983. In the presentation, the focus leans toward the pieces of the article that chronicle E.T. The Game’s role in this event and the effect it had on licensed properties. Since consumers no longer had faith in the quality of Atari games, the market crumbled and was almost demolished. The article also touches upon Nintendo’s role in changing the process of licensing properties by restricting third party developers for their 8 bit system, the NES, and how the brought the industry out of its depression. The gives context to the existence of “The Monster Returns.”

Pearson, Roberta and Anthony N. Smith. Storytelling in the Media Convergence Age. New York: Palsgrave Macmillan, 2014.

The first chapter of Storytelling in the Media Convergence Age opens with a summary of the first Super Mario game that describes the basic plot elements and archetypes of the game. The quest, the hero, the damsel in distress, the boss battles, and the two dimensional side scrolling are all outlined. Many games, both in the Mario franchise and out of it, continued the pattern in attempts to recreate the success. The introductory chapter highlights the archetypes that serve as the foundation for Frankenstein: The Monster Returns. The player is given the task of saving the kidnapped Emily from Frankenstein, and along the way he must defeat numerous minor ad major villains.

Wolf, Mark J.P. The Video Game Explosion. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008.

Chapter 40 of The Video Game Explosion contains a section that touches on the relationship between video games and other media, specifically film. The section points out that after the Video Game Crash of 1983 Hollywood studios lost interest in the market. However once the popularity of Nintendo’s NES was clear, Hollywood studios regained interest in the market, particularly an economic interest. Video games since the early 80’s had been adapting TV and film to the medium, and after the resurgence of consoles in the late 80’s this trend resumed. Popular films gave inspiration to video games, as highlighted by the video game tie in of 1994’s Mary Shelleys Frankenstein. The film-video game relationship was mutually beneficial, as both mediums essentially advertised for the other.