Symposium – January 3rd, 2019: Into the Breach


It was nearly half a decade ago when we played Subset Games’ first release, FTL, and discussed its capacity for player-created narrative. The intervening years have seen a great deal of change, especially with regards to the prevalence of procedural content in gaming, so it seems fitting to kick off a new year of symposium discussion with Subset’s award-winning follow-up. How does Into the Breach’s deterministic play and legibility contribute to the micro-narratives that emerge from it? How do these narratives compare against the ones we find in other strategy games? We’ll discuss this and more through voice chat over Discord at 8:30pm EDT / 5:30pm PDT.

Supplemental Material:

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Gaming Session: Minecraft, December 27, 2018

Minecraft this Thursday!  8:30pm EST / 5:30pm PST.

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Symposium, December 6, 2018: Reigns: Her Majesty


What does it mean to be a queen? Can you balance the church, people, military, and economy? Reigns: Her Majesty (2017) gives a glimpse into a simulation of a medieval kingdom and its challenges. Let’s start our conversation there.

As a simulation, what does Reigns: Her Majesty (2017) expose? What does it hide? With its emphasis on binary choices, do we see a serious engagement of ruling, or does the more sillier aspects ask use to “game” our choices? Are we learning to be a ruler, or “playing at” several layers removed from the more serious nature of some of the choices?

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

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Gaming Session: Minecraft, November 29, 2018

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

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Symposium, November 1, 2018: Yakuza 0

This month’s Symposium will be on Yakuza 0.  It’s a game with an unusually detailed setting (and, even more unusually, a series with a persistently detailed setting!); I’d like to talk about how that setting drags the game’s center of gravity away from the putative plot of the game and towards the way that Kiryu’s and Majima’s daily lives are embedded in that setting.

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

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Gaming Session: Minecraft, October 25, 2018

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

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Symposium, 4 October 2018: Narrative as game–an experiment

As I mentioned at the last symposium, I’m hoping to push forward our conversation around talking about games, stories, and performance with an experimental ruleset. So I’m hoping that before Thursday night (and we’ll take ten minutes to do this at the beginning of the symposium as necessary) prospective attendees can “play” this “game”:

Write a three paragraph story that begins with “Once upon a time there lived…” Rules: 1) Begin with “Once upon a time there lived…”; 2) write three paragraphs, of any length, as a beginning, a middle, and an end respectively. (By “as a” I mean that the ruleset labels the paragraphs thus, not that you’re obligated to convey anything like a sense of incipience, mediation, or finality in the paragraphs respectively.)

Then bring any thoughts and questions you happen to have concerning the experiment for discussion! We’ll be on the VGHVI Discord at 8:30pm Eastern/5:30pm Pacific, Thursday 4 October.

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