Gaming Session: Minecraft, July 28, 2016


Minecraft this week! Thursday, July 28 at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT.

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Gaming Session: Minecraft, June 23, 2016


We’re doing Minecraft a week early this month (and we’ll be skipping the July Symposium entirely): Thursday, June 23 at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT.

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Symposium: Alien Isolation, June 2, 2016


In this month’s Symposium, we’ll be talking about Alien: Isolation.  I’ll be leading the discussion; my main area of interest is how the smaller scale of the game leads to increased focus, and how that interacts with the game’s stealth mechanics.

We’ll be meeting on Thursday, June 2 at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT; voice chat over Skype.

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Gaming Session: Minecraft, May 26, 2016

top view down four layers

It’s Minecraft time: Thursday, May 26 at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT!


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Symposium: Disgaea, May 5, 2016


This month’s Symposium, hosted by Pat Holleman, is on the Disgaea series.  Quoting Pat:

The Role Playing Game was the product of two designers who started from very different places, in terms of design. Dave Arneson had been playing a variant of Diplomacy with his friends, but found that the game needed clearer structure. Gary Gygax had created a set of character skills which could be thoroughly represented as the result of fixed attributes and chance. Their combined ideas led to the form which we know today. The interesting thing is that the two influences on the product would come to define so much of the RPG legacy. Although it is a slight simplification, we can see Arneson’s influence as the Dionysian strain in RPGs, and Gygax’s influence as the Apollonian. Because their combined masterwork, Dungeons & Dragons, was so artistically complete, most of the RPGs in its wake had to focus on either the Apollonian or Dionysian aspects of the RPG in order to create a unique product.

Disgaea is one of the most Apollonian (Gygaxian?) RPGs ever created. Nearly everything in the game is represented by a numerical system which can be directly altered by the player. There are statistical systems embedded in statistical systems which allow for hundreds of hours of content, but relatively little in the way of dynamic character development or choices in the plot. This week we’re going to discuss the implications of such a numbers-heavy RPG, and how it compares to the more plot-and-character-driven RPGs and adventures which are the usual fare of VGHVI.

We’ll be meeting this Thursday, May 5th at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT; talk to you then!

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Gaming Session: Minecraft, April 28, 2016


Minecraft this week! Thursday, April 28th at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT.

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Symposium: Telltale’s Game of Thrones


When we discussed Life is Strange in February we spent a good deal of our time trying to find the right terms to describe episodic graphic adventure games. What caught my fancy most strongly was the similarity of the serial moments of games like Life is Strange and April’s topic Game of Thrones: a Telltale Games Series to the panels of a graphic novel.

Whether under the influence of that attempt or not, I’ve delved deep into comics recently, and so I’ll seek to approach the question of what’s immersive in Game of Thrones from the perspective of the curious interactivity of the well-written, well-drawn comic book. To what extent do the maddeningly interesting dialogue choices that constitute (at least for me) the playable essence of Game of Thrones mirror the choices one makes in devoting attention to the panels of a comic and in constructing the narrative thread among them?

Thursday 6 April, 9:30pm Eastern/6:30 Pacific.

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