Symposium: Persona 4, December 1, 2016


For the December Symposium, we’re talking about Persona 4. I’d like to understand how it uses a “less is more” (at least compared to traditional video game values) approach to become a game that I found remarkably moving: in particular, how the local scope of the plot gives it strength, and how the story cutscenes somehow work well despite their abbreviated nature.  And, perhaps, also about the effects, pros, and cons of how story choices play out in the game, of the different glimpses they give you into life in Inaba.

Discussion over Skype this Thursday: 9:30pm EST / 6:30pm PST.

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Gaming Session: Minecraft, November 17th


We’re doing Minecraft a week early this month, because of Thanksgiving: Thursday, November 17th at 9:30pm EST / 6:30pm PST.

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Symposium: Magicka, November 3, 2016


The November Symposium will be on Magicka, hosted by Pat Holleman. Quoting Pat:

In Western game design criticism there is a great deal of emphasis placed on the value of systems in games over content in games.  Magicka is one of the best examples of this trend taken to its extreme.  Magicka offers extremely deep and highly versatile game mechanics, but fails to exploit those systems because its content is so repetitive, lackluster and limiting.  We’ll talk about how the game promises a ton through its tutorial and first few minutes of live play, but then abandons almost all pretense of variety and throws the same situation at the player dozens of times.  I recommend everyone play the game about 20 minutes past the first sleeping giant, at least.  That will give you a very good picture of what the rest of the game is like.

We’ll meet on Skype this Thursday at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30 pm PDT.

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Gaming Session: Minecraft, October 27, 2016


Minecraft this Thursday: 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT!

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Let’s Try This Symposium Again, October 13th: Super Mario Maker and The Beginner’s Guide

A Skype outage sabotaged our attempt to have this discussion last week, so let’s take another swing at it on Thursday.

Here are the notes for the original discussion:

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Symposium, October 6th: Super Mario Maker and The Beginner’s Guide


In our last symposium, our examination of play through virtual reality interrogated a viewpoint that is so player-centered that we had to come up with a new aphorism (metaphoric presence) to attempt to describe the player’s role as a disruptive intersection between the gamespace and The Real.

For this week, however, we use the one year anniversary of The Beginner’s Guide as an excuse to pull the camera so far away from the player that the author’s hand is fully in our view. (Or is it?) In both Super Mario Maker and The Beginner’s Guide, an author has a direct and explicit role to play in the game, both as creator and recipient, performer and audience, tourist and guide.

Can the act of creation qualify as play? Do the author and player share a gamespace or do their respective gamespaces intersect and even compete? How does authorial quotation fit into our definition of mimesis? Does Super Mario Maker’s confined presentation of its creation toolset mutate the role of the player/author into something different?

As always, we’ll meet to discuss these question and more on Thursday, October 6th at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT on voice chat over Skype.

Supplemental material to this discussion:

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Gaming Session: Minecraft, September 29, 2016


Minecraft this Thursday: 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT.

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