More experimental even than my usual fare, this symposium will seek to describe the snapstreak, and Snapchat itself, as performative play practices, and then to extrapolate from there to describe other social media practices in similar terms.
The question to which I seek an answer: what traction can we get over the function of identification in the play practices we usually describe as games from considering how we identify with ourselves as practitioners of social media? If immersion is identification with the ruleset, how do our social media performances transform us as we assume the self-images we create within the mechanics of various social media platforms? What happens to that imago, and to us, when a snapstreak ends?
Thursday, March 1st, on Skype at 8:30pm EDT / 5:30pm PDT.
Minecraft this week! Thursday at 8:30pm EST / 5:30pm PST.
Everything. Everything in its right place.
The system has a task. A task and a purpose. For incremental games like Universal Paperclips, that task and that purpose becomes our own as we become both the rules of the system and their flight toward the cold, incandescent flame of progress. If we were to feel, everything might feel inevitable, but it might also feel sharp and focused, a narrow synergy of theme and mechanics.
Everything has a place and time. Our place and our time will be this Thursday, February 1st, on Skype at 8:30pm EDT / 5:30pm PDT. Our flight will drift far enough from the system so that we can observe and speak to it; does it remember its task? Does it remember our purpose? Or can the system only see its history as justification to perpetuate its meaning?
The first Minecraft session of the new year: Thursday at 8:30pm EST / 5:30pm PST.
For our January symposium, we will be discussing Undertale (2015). Available on Steam, GoG, and PSN, Undertale (2015) turns many conventions and assumptions about the RPG genre upside-down and inside-out. Offering the ability to end conflicts through “Mercy” options and negotiations, it builds on an often-forgotten history of non-combat solutions found in early Shin Megami Tensei and other games where defeating your opponent in a random encounter was not the sole or even optimal answer to continue.
For this symposium, let’s continue to build on the previous months and our thoughts on the “unexplored spaces” in games. Like with our previous talk on Tacoma (2017) and Her Story (2015), and use of different perspectives on conversation, let’s pair Undertale (2015) with other RPG and JPRG titles. How does the ability to negotiate change combat dynamics? Does the often silly presentation of the game distract from its more serious message of confronting and trying to overcome our assumptions of the world? Does Undertale (2015) point to an even greater possibilities where conflict need not always mean combat in random encounters?
As always, we’ll meet at 8:30pm EDT / 5:30pm PDT on Skype.
Minecraft this Thursday! 8:30pm EST / 5:30pm PST.
For our December Symposium, I’d like to talk about Nier: Automata. I’m particularly interesting in linking it to our recent discussion of Her Story and, especially, Tacoma: discussing the games’ different approaches to viewing the same scene from multiple characters’ perspectives. But if we end up talking about nihilism and/or morality as well, that’s great too.
We’re meeting at a super-exciting half-an-hour-early time of 8:00pm EST / 5:00pm PST.