Symposium, October 1st: Splatoon


In “Effective, but Defective,” music critic Robert Christgau wrote about a perceived critical leniency that was afforded to Tom Waits, whose fractured folk-singing has carved out a memorable — and distinctly anti-pop — niche. Christgau confesses that “yes, [Waits’s] gifts are major and unconventional,” but he also questions how meaningfully Waits wields those gifts, observing that “what exactly [Waits] has to say, or even how well he says it, is subsumed in his legendary integrity and idiosyncrasy.”

Christgau never made me think twice about buying Swordfishtrombones, but his outlook on Tom Waits does remind me a bit of Splatoon and Nintendo, a delightfully anti-shooter video game made by a company that is delightfully distant from contemporary video game tastes.  I adore Splatoon and its willingness to bend the rules of the shooter genre by emphasizing traversal and verticality through Super Mario Sunshine-inspired environments, but I wonder if the game is getting “a bit of a free ride” as Christgau once felt about Waits.

Is Splatoon being celebrated only for being so firmly entrenched outside of typical shooter tone and aesthetic? Or does it have a more meaningful message about the genre and the conventions that surround it?

We’ll meet to discuss these questions and more on Thursday, October 1st at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT; voice chat over Skype.

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Gaming Session: Minecraft, September 24, 2015


It’s Minecraft time: Thursday, September 24th at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT, voice chat over Skype.

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Symposium: Twine, September 3, 2015

Twine Logo

It’s hard to talk about Twine and its growing community without also discussing its product: hyperlinks. Presented as a tool for creating interactive fiction, its output, HTML, is often derailed for not being a “game,” or not qualifying for definitions that might place the works by those who use Twine as part of a greater game developer community. As one of the easiest tools to use in terms of requiring little to no programming language knowledge, Twine, its output, and its community are often at the center of wide-ranging discourses around what qualifications, if any, make something a “game” and who, in turn, gets to make things that might be games.

This week, along with discussing the tool itself, we will examine the major debates around Twine, how the interface of “merely clicking on links” (as some of its detractors proclaim) contributes to both its ease of development and contributes to what some of its louder critics see as products that are not now nor will ever be games.

We’ll meet on Skype this Thursday, September 3, 2015 at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT. Hope to see you there!

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Gaming Session: Minecraft, August 27, 2015


Minecraft this week: Thursday, August 27th at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT.  Usual server, voice chat over Skype.

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Symposium: Shadow of the Colossus, August 6, 2015

Shadow-of-the-Colossus-QuadratusWe were planning to talk about both Ico and Shadow of the Colossus last month, but we spent all of our time on Ico; so we’ll talk about Shadow of the Colossus this month.

We’re meeting an hour earlier than normal: 8:30pm EDT / 5:30pm PDT.  Voice chat on Skype, as always.


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Gaming Session: Minecraft, July 30, 2015

pats-tracks-at-other-endMinecraft this week; the usual time (9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT), Thursday, July 30.


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Symposium: Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, July 2, 2015


This month, we’ll talk about Ico and Shadow of the Colossus.  How do we feel about them, a decade and two console generations later? What have later games learned from them? What do we wish later games would learn from them?

We’ll meet on Skype this Thursday, July 2nd at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT.

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