Arcadian Rhythms: Gaming and Interaction in Social Space

I have a new article up, titled “Arcadian Rhythms: Gaming and Interaction in Social Space.” It’s published in Reconstruction, a peer-reviewed journal of cultural research available for free online. (And don’t be put off by the French theorist in my abstract. I’m pretty sure the piece is accessible overall.)

This article focuses on how people interact in arcades, and how social dynamics and the cultural connotations behind games influences who plays what and with whom. It’s not nominally about geeks or geek cultures, but this study did end up influencing how I thought about my dissertation research. When you get to the parts about how people insulate themselves socially, and particularly one moment in which a boy loudly proclaims upon winning a game, “I’m the One! I’m ****in’ Neo!”, you may see what I mean.

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“Geeks vs. Nerds” Revisited

Back in 2007, I started a post titled “Geeks vs. Nerds.” After the Geek Studies home page, it is the most visited page on this site by about 3,000 pageviews—and to be frank, the next nearest contender gets a lot of its traffic from people who are probably looking for porn. When I get called to be interviewed for a newspaper article, or when I get linked by a major blog, it’s usually thanks to that post.

In other words, people really, really want to know what the difference is between geeks and nerds.

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Zero Pronunciation

I am a big fan of Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw’s Zero Punctuation reviews at The Escapist. They’re laugh-out-loud funny, irreverently witty, and more often than not, very much in agreement with my own tastes (if you can read between the lines and figure out which games he actually likes despite slamming them). I also think it’s hilarious that when you google “Yahtzee”, the Zero Punctuation gallery is the top result, indicating the disproportionate influence that geeks wield in determining what’s relevant on the web.

But that is not what this blog post is about.

This blog post is about “Zero Punctuation: Achieving the Cross-media Transformation of Ludological Hermeneutics,” a recent article from the Escapist. The author critiques Croshaw’s reviews as themselves critiques of gamer culture and gender norms. At first, I found it pretty spot-on, if a bit unnecessarily obtuse. Then, I started wondering if it was actually intentionally obtuse. I honestly wasn’t sure of what to conclude until I got to the end, where “Max Steele” claimed to have a Ph.D. from Miskatonic University.

I relate this anecdote for two reasons.

First, that’s a pretty funny gag right there.

And second, Lord help me, but I still found the article interesting, despite being nigh-impenetrable. I can’t decide whether this is a credit to the author or a sad commentary on academics’ willingness to inure themselves to overly complex writing. Maybe both. Or maybe I just used the word “inure” in a sentence without even thinking about it.