Links: Back from the Dead Edition

I’ve just completed my first year as an assistant professor, and now face my first real summer break in goodness knows how long. I’m really excited to have some time to work on research, prepare new classes, sleep eight hours a night, and, of course, do some more blogging. I figure I’ll get back into the swing of things with some links I thought were interesting, and try to work my way back up to my usual rambling essays again in time.

Death in Games: Peter Mawhorter posted an interesting take on “The Incoherence of Reincarnation: Story vs. Telling in Videogames,” riffing off Jesper Juul’s notes on how dying in video games is narratively incoherent. Tom Jubert jumps in to expand on this at “The Argument for Game Over” jumps in to expand on this as well. The long and the short of it is that dying should not be seen as part of the narrative, but extradiegetic—just as we don’t get confused by reading “Chapter 1” before a chapter starts in a book, players can handle the die-and-retry approach despite its seeming narrative incoherence. Jesper actually chimes in for the comments on that first post, and I couldn’t help but offer a response based on my own article on this topic, but the whole conversation is pretty interesting and worth considering.

Nerd Shame: Topless Robot held a contest inviting people to describe when they felt ashamed to be a nerd simply by proximity to people being even nerdier than themselves. It’s a sometimes funny, sometimes condescending, and sometimes sweetly painful look at how much nerd identity is still bound into shared feelings of embarrassment.

I wish this had been done in time to make it to my dissertation. Ah, well—there’s always the book.

Gamer Shame: Along similar lines, Cracked is getting a lot of praise for its piece on “5 Reasons It’s Still Not Cool to Admit You’re a Gamer.” Among the more compelling reasons, to my mind, are the points that gamers are still marketed to as if we’re all 17 year old boys, and that video game storytelling generally remains at the level of B-movies.

Personally, I find that the older I get, the less concerned I find myself about whether I can admit my gaming-related hobbies to people, and the more concerned I am about actually finding games I’m even willing to play. I’m getting tired of playing 20-hour action movies with brief, stilted dialog and no actual attempts to explore themes beyond “revenge,” “redemption,” and “saving the galaxy against impossible odds.”

Hey Dudes: Some fellows have reacted pretty negatively to Hey Baby, a game that simulates being able to murder catcalling men. The reaction points pretty clearly to a lack of understanding among many men of how degrading and frustrating it can feel to be a woman, and also highlights a double standard in terms of what’s considered acceptable violence in a video game. Guys can blow off steam by shooting and teabagging soldiers on the internet, but gals can’t exorcise their demons their own way? Regardless of what you think of the game, the resulting discussions are worth following.

Be Nice: And before we conclude that it’s the “d-bags” who ruin interactions with women for all us nerdy “nice guys,” I figured I’d give one final link, “The Nice Guy’s Guide to Realizing You’re Not That Nice.” You know, just in case. I’m sure you Geek Studies readers are generally the nice kind of nerds, but perhaps you know a fellow who’ll benefit from some raw, unfiltered advice by the man behind the Geek Hierarchy.

Thank to everyone who has stayed tuned in—or, in more appropriate new-media-speak, not dropping my site from your RSS feeds despite my extended silence.

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