Symposium: Western JRPGs, May 4, 2017

This month’s symposium is hosted by Pat Holleman.  Quoting Pat:

For a long time, the “J” in JRPG signified only the country of origin for games like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Breath of Fire and Ys.  Over time, the Western audience came to understand JRPG as being a subgenre with its own set of story tropes and design techniques.  In recent times, Western developers who grew up playing JRPGs in the 1980s and 1990s have begun to try their hand at making games in this subgenre–but they come to it as outsiders who are appropriating tropes that materialized in another culture.  This is something which has happened in art for thousands of years, of course, but even respectful appropriations leave clear signs.  We’ll be looking at either Shadows of Adam or Cosmic Star Heroine (or both) as examples of Westerners making “neo” JRPGs, and how they commodify their source material for re-use in games which are often quite different in scope, goals and player experience.   Both games are on Steam and can be completed in less than 15 hours, although 3-5 hours in either game will give you a good idea of what I’m talking about.

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

Posted in Symposium

Gaming Session: Minecraft, April 27, 2017

Minecraft this Thursday, at our new time of 8:30 EDT / 5:30 PDT.

Posted in Events | 2 Comments

Symposium, 6 April: Narrative in strategy games

Hopefully, we can generate an aphorism or two about the intersection of emergent play in a historically-inflected possibility-space and story-telling. I’m thinking we’ll use the Civ series as our touchstone, but I don’t want to be restrictive.

8:30 Eastern, 5:30 Pacific, over Skype.

Posted in Symposium

Gaming Session: Minecraft, March 30, 2017

Minecraft this Thursday! At the new standard time: 8:30pm EDT / 5:30pm PST.

Posted in Events | 2 Comments

Symposium: Darkest Dungeon, March 2


We didn’t manage to have our February Symposium on Darkest Dungeon as scheduled, so we postponed it until March: we’ll instead meet again this week (March 2nd), at the new time of 8:30pm EST / 5:30pm PST.  See Steve’s earlier post for some potential points of discussion.

Posted in Symposium

Gaming Session: Minecraft, February 16, 2017


We’re doing Minecraft a week early this month.  And we’re moving up our start time by an hour (and this is an ongoing change going forward): 8:30pm EST / 5:30pm PST.

Posted in Events | 2 Comments

Symposium, February 5th: Darkest Dungeon


Our past explorations of procedural generation have confronted the tensions between design of the unknown and its representation. For Spelunky to live, death had to lose its way in the winding tunnels, while the more procedural whims of King of Dragon Pass could only be left as whispers of barbarian gods.

In Darkest Dungeon, the unknowable becomes the unthinkable, an ostinato of Lovecraftian terror that taxes the player as much as the characters that they lead into the darkness. Much of the conversation surrounding this game has centered on the human cost, the stresses and quirks that the characters accumulate as they try to survive their adventures as well as the quiet respite that follows them. But is it possible that the dungeon itself is a better metaphor for the unthinkable than the scars that it leaves upon its travelers?

We’ll meet to explore the horrors of the unknown on Thursday, February 5th at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT on voice chat over our venerable Skype chat, opulent and imperial.

Supplemental material:

Posted in Symposium | 1 Comment