Symposium: Her Story, November 3, 2017

The November Symposium will be on Her Story, hosted by Pat Holleman. In Pat’s words:

Thursday’s game will be Her Story.  I want to say as little about it as possible, because it is such an unorthodox game.  As of this writing, I haven’t “beaten” it, nor do I know how that would be accomplished.  I don’t really have a framework for talking about the game either, because I’m pretty sure each one of our experiences of the game will be so different.  So, if we can, I’d like for each of us to simply describe their path through the game, and what our impressions of that game were at pivotal points–even though those points will all be different!

We’ll meet this Thursday at 8:30pm EDT / 5:30pm PDT.

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Gaming Session: Minecraft, October 26, 2017

Minecraft this week!  Thursday, October 26 at 8:30pm EDT / 5:30pm PDT.

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Symposium 5 October 2017: Tacoma

Tacoma - Clive Siddiqi replay

We had some good preliminary conversation about what exactly we (or anyone) might mean by the term “walking simulator,” in relation to What Remains of Edith Finch. Though the original, pejorative intent behind the phrase seems to me unhelpful, the idea that the conventions of some outmoded idea of “good” game-design might actually be subverted into a quieter narrative experience worth savoring appeals greatly to me. Tacoma seems a likely candidate for discussion on this score.

Topics I plan to bring up include the relationship between the conventional adventure-game mechanics and the innovative narrative-discovery mechanics of Tacoma, how both/either of those deliver or fail to enable an affecting performance on the part of the player, and (the doozy) whether it makes sense to continue calling such works as Tacoma “games.” To be clear, I don’t expect that arguing semantics in the case of the last topic will be rewarding or even diverting, but the cultural categories underlying words like “game” are undergoing such rapid transformation, as I see it, that placing Tacoma within various cultures (gaming, online, mainstream even) could well help us describe important developments in our changing world. Perhaps it’s something of a bonus that Fullbright seem to have been thinking of similar kinds of transformation as they developed the themes of Tacoma.

Here’s the Polygon review so that we have something at which to fire off salvos.

This Thursday, at 8:30pm EDT / 5:30pm PDT, we’ll discuss.

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Gaming Session: Minecraft, September 28, 2017

Minecraft this Thursday! 8:30pm EDT / 5:30pm PDT.

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Symposium, September 7th: Breath of the Wild


As its name might suggest, mythology has always served as the foundation for The Legend of Zelda. Throughout its history, its songs of champions found many forms across the Hyrulean ages, from the sunken legacy of Wind Waker to the existential hum of a slumbering Wind Fish in Link’s Awakening.

With Breath of the Wild, Nintendo challenges the player to rebuild the mythology of the series through play and, in doing so, finds a new retelling of the song that enraptured so many players when the original Legend of Zelda was released over thirty years ago. Does the latest Zelda truly reveal new territory for open-world designs to explore? Or does it incorporate newfound traditions of contemporary design to redefine its own place in gaming history?

We’ll meet to explore the mountainous horizons of this venerable series on Thursday, September 7th at 8:30pm EDT / 5:30pm PDT on voice chat over Skype.

Supplemental material:

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Gaming Session: Minecraft, August 31, 2017

Minecraft this Thursday: 8:30pm EDT / 5:30pm PDT.

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Symposium: What Remains of Edith Finch, August 3, 2017


The game What Remains of Edith Finch (2017) presents a series of interconnected moments revolving around a premise posed as an implicit question: in the end, are we simply stories other people tell about us?

This Thursday, at 8:30pm EDT / 5:30pm PDT, let’s discuss how What Remains of Edith Finch (2017) is itself a connection among a number of trends this year.

  • Games as part of and as themselves anthologies “gathered” together around a theme;
  • What the shift of “missing fathers” (The Unfinished Swan, 2014; BioShock Infinite, 2013) to “missing mothers” (What Remains of Edith Finch, 2017; Mass Effect: Andromeda, 2017; Persona 5, 2017) might mean; and
  • The rise of “walking simulators,” and the complications of genre conventions and labels
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