This month’s Symposium topic is Half-Life. Our discussion will be led by Patrick Holleman, who says:
Half-Life is an odd and wonderful game that stands astride two eras in videogame history. Its release begins the era in which Western videogames (and the FPS in particular) would become ascendant. It is, without a doubt, the most beloved single player FPS of all time, in a genre where multiplayer is king. The game demonstrates a clear mastery of previous (Japanese) game design trends, and a clearly conscious step away from them. In a sense, it is like Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony in its self-conscious manipulation and transcendence of what had come before it. Although the FPS isn’t exactly VGHVI’s bread and butter, I think it will be interesting for all of us to take a look at how polished and relevant the game feels despite the explosive growth of games in the FPS genre in the post-Half-Life era.
Discussion will be on Thursday, September 4 at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT, and will take place over Skype; see you then!
Minecraft this week! The usual server, with voice chat over Skype. We might actually start a little earlier – no earlier than 9:00pm EDT / 6:00pm PDT, quite possible at our normal starting time of 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT.
In the realm of strategy games, years can be played as minutes and Rise of Nations, which was originally released by Big Huge Games in 2003, provides a striking contrast between its broad historical scope and the surprisingly brief window of time that interrogates it.
The recent “Extended Edition” re-release of Rise of Nations on Steam provides a more accessible opportunity to re-examine discussions from past symposia through the lens of this beloved real-time strategy game:
- Does the distance of abstraction provided by Rise of Nations — and strategy games in general — provide an illuminating vantage point to observe or even participate in a practice of history through play?
- Is this practice of history strengthened or weakened by Rise of Nations’ capacity for multiple and iterative skirmishes? (Can we compare and contrast this against the more linear and expositive narrative of Assassin’s Creed?)
- Is the real-time strategy of Rise of Nations well-poised for meaningful contemplation of history “in motion” or is subversive play the game’s strongest suit?
One piece of supplemental material that may enrich our discussion is Troy Goodfellow’s National Character series on Flash of Steel, which examines how certain countries are mechanically portrayed throughout various strategy games, including Rise of Nations. Do these characterizations in Rise of Nations make for a more meaningful and consonant presentation of history?
We’ll meet to discuss these questions and more on Thursday, August 7th at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT; voice chat over Skype.
Minecraft this week! Thursday 7/31 at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT, the usual server.
We’re continuing our Netrunner sessions; we’ll meet on OCTGN this Thursday at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT, with voice chat over Skype.
We’re taking this week off, see you on the 24th.
We’re continuing to work Netrunner into the rotation; so come join us if you’re interested in the game! We’ll meet this Thursday at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT; game play on OCTGN.