Symposium, October 6th – Citizen Sleeper

Somehow, Citizen Sleeper has managed to land right in the intersection of so many of our Symposium discussions, from Disco Elysium’s interrogation of the narrative capabilities of tabletop mechanics to Nier Automata’s exploration of how the body and self are damaged or even severed by cruelties of the future.

We will cast our dice on Thursday at 8:30 EDT / 7:30 CDT / 5:30 PDT, with voice chat over Discord. Survivors welcome.

Supplemental Reading:
Citizen Sleeper Is a Game About Finding Home in a World That Hates You [Renata Price, Waypoint]
You Wouldn’t Download a Body [Kaile Hultner, No Escape]
The Melancholy Realism of Citizen Sleeper [Cameron Kunzelman, Paste]
Conversation in the Ruins of Interplanetary Capitalism [Ruth Cassidy w/Gareth Damian Martin, Unwinnable]

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Gaming Session: Lord of the Rings Card Game, September 22, 2022

We’ll be playing more Lord of the Rings this Thursday; 8:30pm EDT / 7:30pm CDT / 5:30pm PDT, Discord plus Dragncards.

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Symposium 1 September: Marvel Continuity

When Chris Claremont gave us Giant-Size XMen #1, did he — whether literally or metaphorically speaking — change the game of Marvel continuity, repurposing the moribund Uncanny X-Men to tell a new kind of story? Or did the game actually change when Adam Warlock, erstwhile messiah, became the atrocity-loving Magus in Jim Starlin’s Strange Tales #178? Or had the game always already been different, each new creator adjusting the rules not only of their own book but of the entire storyworld?

The rules of Marvel continuity — or of any continuity, really — would seem to exist merely in order to be bent into unrecognizable shapes. There’s a fascination for me in this playful practice, this largely unacknowledged-as-such emergent storytelling game. Unlike the systems of oral poetics that serve as my touchstone for such narrative practices, Marvel continuity possesses a complete a record of the choices made by previous players — Lee, Kirby, Ditko, to name some prominent and fitting examples we might set beside Claremont and Starlin.

To put it another way, what I want to concentrate on this Thursday is how retcons work in a flexible possibility space like Marvel continuity that’s nonetheless bounded to a certain important degree by everything that’s gone before. What can comics retcons tell us about how the games we usually discuss build their own emergent narratives?

Or, really, let’s just talk about our favorite retcons and why we love them and what that says about how we play now.

Join the conversation on Discord at 8:30 Eastern!

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Gaming Session: LotR Card Game, August 18, 2022

We’re playing the LotR card game again this week; voice chat over Discord, game on Dragncards, 8:30pm EDT, 7:30pm CDT, 5:30pm PDT.

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Symposium: Tunic, August 4, 2022

Tunic (2022)

Tunic (2022) revels in nostalgia. Playing the game, it is hard not to see echoes of the past from previous titles like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991) and Dark Souls (2011). It is a game purposely trying to recreate an experience from a pre-Internet time in gaming where the only information a player had was an instruction manual and whatever could be gleamed from talking to others about what they too had seen. Featuring an in-game system where the player learns more about what the character is capable of from pages in a booklet positioned in a liminal space between diegetic (the character discovers pages in-world) and non-diegetic (the player learns how to better navigate spaces from the representation of physical marks in the digital booklet), Tunic (2022) plays with how paratexts (“feelies”) interact with games. The text of the game is a paratext onto itself, layering more explicit instructions on top of in-game, implicit discovery by the player.

While there is much to talk about around how the game faithfully (or not) pulls tropes from previous The Legend of Zelda titles in its use of swords, shields, and in-game combat, my interest is in its approach to pedagogy. How well does the game teach? What did you learn through experimentation, and what did you learn from reading the in-game booklet? How did the two interact for you? Did you learn the “golden cross” from the game or from the booklet?

Some additional questions to consider:

  • Did you use the accessibility system to make combat easier? (I certainly did!)
  • Did you learn any of the advanced secrets with the golden cross?
  • How did you feel about the different layers of story: as presented in the booklet, as revealed by the game (the source of the “pillars,” for example), and the ongoing journey of the confrontation between parent and child figures?

The usual time and place: 8:30pm EDT / 7:30pm CDT / 5:30pm PDT, voice chat on Discord.

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Gaming Session: LotR Card Game, July 28, 2022

More LotR today; we’ll decide depending on who’s there as to whether to continue an existing game or start a new one. Usual time/place, gameplay on Dragncards.

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Symposium: The Forgotten City, July 7, 2022

For our July symposium, we’re discussing The Forgotten City. I’d like to relate that to our recent discussion of time loop games, and in particular to talk about the game’s affordances for that sort of puzzle. And talking about Roman stuff is always good, too.

The usual time and place: 8:30pm EDT / 7:30pm CDT / 5:30pm PDT, voice chat on Discord.

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Gaming Session: LotR Card Game, June 23, 2022

We’ll try to make more progress escaping from Moria this Thursday.

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Gaming Session: LotR Card Game, June 16, 2022

We’ll play the LotR Card game on Thursday; I think the plan is to try to escape from Moria again? At least hopefully we will; I’m on my iPad, we’ll see how well DragnCards works there. (I do have a keyboard connected to it, at least.) And I’ve just finished rereading the books, so at least I’m more caught up on my lore now….

8:30pm EDT / 7:30 CDT / 5:30 PDT.

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Symposium, June 2nd – Majora’s Mask

Like a Groundhog Day gone wrong, we will relive and relearn the recurring nightmare of Termina in Majora’s Mask and explore just how far one of gaming’s most beloved franchises is willing to dive into existential despair.

It’s dangerous to go alone, so we will meet on Thursday at 8:30 EDT / 7:30 CDT / 5:30 PDT, with voice chat over Discord.

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