More on Gaming Activism

As a follow-up to the earlier post on entertainment advocacy and activism, consider this pledge offered by Joystiq, which young gamers can sign to show their parents that they won’t cross the line between fake and real violence. As one of the bloggers explains in the comments,

Keep in mind as you read this that it was created as a positive way to counter Jack Thompson. Instead of cursing the darkness, you can talk to someone you love who doesn’t understand games. It’s our own little counter-information campaign, and we’d love any feedback you can provide.

Part of the reason he’s explaining this, perhaps, is that Joystiq commenters can be critical of such an effort’s effectiveness. The negative attitude some gamers might have toward such campaigns may be why I haven’t seen much of a grassroots gamer movement to speak of yet. Comments on the previously-linked Game Politics article also indicate some sense of how gamers feel about such a movement:

Terminator44 Says:
“This is a very unprecedented move. Perhaps efforts to create a gamer grassroots movement are working after all.”

GameClucks Says:
“Still, good on them for the grassroots effort to make a better name for the gaming community. Also, I applaud them for their work in organizing competitive gaming tournaments, which is no simple task.”

Jonathan Brown Says:
“Can we take any grassroots effort seriously when its led by a man who legally changed his name to ‘Triforce’?”

In the Aftermath of a Shooting

Aside from a brief comment in an earlier post, I haven’t written anything here yet about the Virginia Tech shooting. This is because the actual event involves a lot of victims in a crime that seems to have nothing to do with the content of this blog, and real death is something personal, uncomfortable, and often very awkward to discuss. I have had to deal with real death recently myself, and it’s not something I want to talk about right now, so I can’t imagine that the victims’ families appreciate all the attention. Whether we like it or not, this isolated incident has become a national story, and the cultural and political implications of major events are my business. Before I go any further, then, I just want to extend my condolences to anyone affected by the recent tragedy.

That’s all I’ll say about the event itself. Today, I want to talk about what the news had to say about it.

Continue reading “In the Aftermath of a Shooting”

Good News!

The New York Times reports that PCs running Windows Vista with DirectX 10 graphics cards are going to be the future of gaming, surpassing consoles for their superior graphics. (Alternate headline: New York Times article reads like it was written by a PR firm.) Mind you, this is the same newspaper that reported not too long ago that people want wild gesticulation more than better graphics, which was at least born out of sales figures.

Thoughts on Entertainment Advocacy and Activism

Video game fans can be pretty vocal on blogs and in casual conversation about how gaming doesn’t get the respect it deserves—people think games are for kids, have stupid plots, make you lazy, make you violent, etc. Video game fans have slowly begun to follow the example of comic book fans, however, in practicing grassroots activism and advocacy to change such perceptions. See, for example, the recent news about a gaming advocacy/protest rally in New York:

Empire Arcadia Inc. will gather as many gamers as they can in New York City at Bryan Park on Saturday May 5th, 2007 at 1pm. There we will protest, morn [sic] and show how real gamers play videogames peacefully and responsibly. This demonstration is to show that gamers will not take the blame of this tragic matter but we will do what we can to help put an end to terrible events like this. We reiterate and urge that all leaders of gaming communities, organizations down to the last gamer to set aside 10 hours of this day to pay respect and come together not just as gamers but as HUMAN BEINGS for peace.

Empire Arcadia calls for gamers to unite! Official NYC Gathering:
Fellowship of the Gamers

I’ll get back to the issue of offering this event as a response to a tragedy. For now, I just want to comment on how this relates to gaming fandom more broadly.

Continue reading “Thoughts on Entertainment Advocacy and Activism”

Another Kind of War Gaming

The Ping Pong room will be set up for RPGs (Role-Playing Games, not to be confused with the rocket propelled grenades which share the same acronym), and the DVD Movie room will be playing Anime Movies all day in support of the event.

Ziggurat Con, Iraq, 2007: quite possibly the world’s first war zone game convention.

Geek Culture Bibliography

While googling around for stuff to add to my lit review, I came upon an interesting geek culture bibliography by William L. Svitavsky in Reconstruction. Svitavsky hits on some of the points I’ve wanted to consider further in my own work, and pretty concisely sums up why I have been hoping to help bridge the gap between popular knowledge and academic consideration of media cultures:

When a study profiles a group engaged in one of these activities, it is not unusual for the group’s participation in the other activities to be mentioned as well. In popular culture (as opposed to studies of popular culture), this overlap has been recognized all along. Each of these groups has been ridiculed as “geeks” or “nerds”, and each has subverted those terms into proud self-identification. In his work on media fandom, Henry Jenkins observes that active audiences are “textual poachers” who move from one text to another, and cannot be accurately defined by their relationship with a single text; it may be useful, then, to study geek culture as a whole rather than to focus exclusively on its component areas of interest. This bibliography is an effort to support such a study of the interrelated “geek” subcultures.

Most studies of fandom, in other words, focus on a particular fan group or attempt to give a broad picture of “fandom” as a concept. But how do we account for overlapping subgroups of fans?

I wish I had the time right now to propose some amendments to Svitavsky’s list, such as the inclusion of Hills’s Fan Cultures and an entire category for video games, but I’ll have to cut the blogging short today. Maybe this is something worth returning to for a future project, though. The plan for this article (noted in the journal’s table of contents for that issue) was to make this a “living bibliography” that the author could update over time. This was back in 2001, and the last update was 2002, so perhaps a geek culture wiki would make more sense. Arguably, Wikipedia is already a geek culture wiki, seeing as how the entries for things like Star Wars are more extensive than entries for things like some state legislatures or the entire Pacific Ocean. A specifically academic bibliography wiki, however, formatted somewhat like Svitavsky’s article, would fill a niche that may not be filled elsewhere, and would certainly be less cluttered.

Minor Site Updates

I tried changing the links around a bit to add just a wee bit of color to the site, though I remain stubbornly minimalist with the overall design. Also, I hear that my posts were getting cut off at the “read more” tag in people’s RSS readers, which I think I fixed. If you read by RSS and have been thinking that I am a man of few words, this may come as a rude awakening for you.