Links: Games, Comics, Community, Feminism

I’ll be honest with you: I need to put these links somewhere before my browser crashes again under the combined weight of all my tabs. Please accept these half-formed thoughts.

From Games to Comics: I saw a few people (including my buddy Dan) link this Kotaku post about an Apple patent for a technology that would turn your video game stories into comic books through a series of screen shots. The example used in the patent is clearly from Mass Effect, with the implication being that this is most intended for games where the player gets to choose how the story unfolds, so each comic created would be about a player’s own, personal story.

Kotaku seems pretty jazzed about the idea. Personally, I’m confident this would result in many terrible comic books that might make us realize just how disjointed video game plots tend to be. Maybe that’s a good thing, though, as it might encourage better stories in games in the long run. As I mentioned in a recent post, for instance, Alpha Protocol and Heavy Rain both foreshadow things that the game might never deliver on again later, depending on what choices you make. We forgive that kind of poor storytelling in games because it’s a concession to player choice and because games are often so long that we forget what happened earlier. I think we would notice those kinds of plot holes and paths leading to nowhere if we could revisit the stories in another format.

With Great Power: A BBC article summarizes a study by Sharon Lamb describing how superheroes make poor role models for boys. (I can’t find just one article, as the study seems to have been presented at a conference and possibly derived from the book Packaging Boyhood.) The researchers suggest that it’s problematic that so many comic book heroes are either hypermasculine jerks or lazy slackers, as they present poor role models to boys.

What I found particularly interesting, though, was that the researchers don’t seem to be condemning superhero comics altogether, but sort of commenting on how the “dark and gritty” move since the ’90s has resulted in male characters with less depth and emotional vulnerability. I imagine that there are examples of heroes that don’t fit this “problematic” mold nowadays, and I’ve never been one to suggest that material for adults should be changed or restricted in order to provide “healthy” material for kids, but I thought it was some interesting food for thought. In a way, Lee and Ditko’s Spider-man was a real nerd role model for readers, but I imagine those are harder to find in comics today.

Catching up with the Trend: The BBC also asks “Will Geeks Inherit the Earth?” (with regard to politics and business). The Guardian muses on “The Geek Stranglehold on Cinema” (which may be debatable after Scott Pilgrim vs. the World‘s unimpressive box office take this past weekend). CNN asks: “Geeks: Smart, Harmless, Authentic, Exploited?” Adweek notes that “Consumers Embrace Geekdom,” and Businessweek reflects on ThinkGeek: The Home of Geek Chic.” (I am pretty sure these came from Church, who sends me so many interesting links that I lose track of them.)

The Psychology of Geek Community: Psychology Today offers some words on how Comic Con offers a community for geeks and nerds. The article notes…

The folks at the convention may use the Internet to create their own virtual communities of like-minded “friends” (I use the term friends loosely, in much the same way as Facebook does). But there is something about stepping into a convention center, an exhibit hall, and a hotel, knowing that you share an interest with almost everyone there.

… And handily sums up about two or three chapters of my dissertation. Turns out I can be pretty wordy!

“Why does everyone automatically assume I know tailoring and cooking?”: Geek Feminism reposts an incisive critique of issues of sexism in World of Warcraft and gamer/geek culture more broadly, “I don’t see your problem: Sexism, World of Warcraft and Geekery.”

I have a bunch more links about Scott Pilgrim, but I’m thinking that deserves its own post after I get some other work done.

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