Symposium: Erica, October 3, 2019

Screenshot 2019-09-30 22.56.50

Screenshot from Erica (2019)

Update: Rescheduled for October 10, 2019.

The full motion video (FMV) genre seemingly died out in the late-1990s as increases in rendering technology helped games move into a more “realistic” turn. Yet, in recent years, Until Dawn (2015) and Her Story (2015) have returned to the genre through bringing back increasing usage of a stronger film language to tell a more “visual” story in the medium of video games. Presented as a series of moments where a choice can be made before the video then takes over the action on screen, the recent Erica (2019) is a full motion video game. Yet, at the same time, it is also a much more well-shot movie-like experience than the more cheesy nature of the original genre and exemplar games like Dragon’s Lair (1983) and Night Trap (1992).

This month, let’s consider that line between movie and game. Where is the ludic threshold? Where does agency start in video games? Can an experience be a game without agency? When was Erica (2019) the most effective in telling its story: when it gave a sense of control, or when it took it away from the player?

Voice chat over Discord, 8:30pm EDT / 5:30pm PDT.

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Gaming Session: Minecraft, September 26, 2019

Minecraft this week! Thursday at 8:30pm EDT / 5:30pm PDT, voice chat over discord.

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Symposium: Persona 5, September 5, 2019

We’re talking about Persona 5 this month!  I’m pretty sure we’ll want to talk about Ann’s depiction in the game: ways in which we find that depiction flawed, ways in which we find that depiction in contradiction with itself.  And I’d also like to talk about how the mechanics of the series has evolved from Persona 3 /4 to Persona 5, about what aspects of that evolution we saw in Tokyo Mirage Sessions, and what changes in Tokyo Mirage Sessions weren’t retained in Persona 5.

Voice chat over Discord, 8:30pm EDT / 5:30pm PDT.

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Gaming Session: Minecraft, August 22, 2019

We’re doing Minecraft a week early this month: Thursday, August 22, 8:30pm EDT / 5:30pm PDT.

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Symposium: Sunless Sea, August 1, 2019

This month’s Symposium will be on the game Sunless Sea, with Pat leading the discussion.  Quoting Pat:

Sunless Sea attempts to tell the story of a supernatural place through roguelike mechanics including frequent deaths and procedural placement of locations (and stories).  The question I’d like to address is, in what ways do these roguelike/roguelite mechanics help the narrative project of the game, and in what ways do they hinder it?

We’re meeting at 8:30pm EDT / 5:30pm PDT, voice chat over Discord.

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Gaming Session: Minecraft, July 25, 2019

Minecraft this Thursday! 8:30pm EDT / 5:30pm PDT, voice chat over Discord.

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Symposium and Playversation: Torment: Tides of Numenera, 11 July 2019


With any luck, we’ll get into the combat tutorial this time around!

Come join me as I play through the beginning of Torment: Tides of Numenera on and let’s discuss the game itself and my performance of it on Discord.

When last we left the game, if I recall correctly, we were greatly intrigued, though largely unconvinced by the game’s various ways of framing choices as “mattering.” One area of focus on which we hoped to keep an eye lay in the construction of binary gender as a game-choice, and the various modalities of “mattering” that might invoke and inform.

Questions I’m hoping to continue considering:

  • This is a game designed above all to make the player feel their choices matter. How is that reflected in the moment of performance?
  • How does that “mattering” affect how a player does perform?
  • How do various familiar RPG mechanics, like dialogue-trees and combat, reflect or not reflect “mattering,” and how do they thus relate to the immersion or perhaps the “disimmersion” of the game?
    • In particular, how does the operation of binary gender, at any level, play in or not play into “mattering”?
  • How do we feel about a more-or-less traditional RPG after our travels through rogue-likes and rogue-lites and Yakuza? How is this like Flip-Flop Solitaire, or not?

We’ll meet this Thursday at 8:30pm EST / 5:30pm PST.

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