“Warning: Infected inside, do not enter”
Zombies and the Liberal Arts

On Saturday, April 18, I gave the following talk at Bard College, as part of Bard's Experimental Humanities Mellon lecture series. Sorry if it doesn't read as an "academic" talk. It's written to be told. I’m going to tell you a story today about zombies and the liberal arts. There are a lot of places… Continue reading “Warning: Infected inside, do not enter”Zombies and the Liberal Arts

Closed Bots and Green Bots
Two Archetypes of Computational Media

The Electronic Literature Organization's annual conference was last week in Milwaukee. I hated to miss it, but I hated even more the idea of missing my kids' last days of school here in Madrid, where we've been since January. If I had been at the ELO conference, I'd have no doubt talked about bots. I… Continue reading Closed Bots and Green BotsTwo Archetypes of Computational Media

Sites of Pain and Telling

The Expressive Work of Spaces of Torture in Videogames At the 2014 MLA conference in Chicago I appeared on a panel called "Torture and Popular Culture." I used the occasion to revisit a topic I had written about several years earlier—representations of torture-interrogation in videogames. My comments are suggestive more than conclusive, and I am… Continue reading Sites of Pain and Telling

Be Weird and Other Game Design Tips

Instead of writing papers at the end of the semester in my videogame studies class, my students are building videogames. After all, what better way to understand games than to make one, a notion Ian Bogost calls carpentry. My students aren’t designing merely any kind of game. They are designing metagames, by which I mean… Continue reading Be Weird and Other Game Design Tips

Videogame Studies Panels at SCMS 2012

Later this week I'll be heading to Boston for the annual conference of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. I'm delighted to be presenting on a panel organized by my frequent conspirator Zach Whalen on code studies and videogames. I'm also delighted that there will be an abundance of other panels devoted to videogames.… Continue reading Videogame Studies Panels at SCMS 2012

Close Playing: Literary Methods and Videogame Studies (MLA 2012 Roundtable)

I recently received word that my proposal for a roundtable on videogame studies was accepted for the annual Modern Language Association Convention, to be held next January in Seattle, Washington. I'm very excited for myself and my fellow participants: Ed Chang, Steve Jones, Jason Rhody, Anastasia Salter, Tim Welsh, and Zach Whalen. (Updated with links… Continue reading Close Playing: Literary Methods and Videogame Studies (MLA 2012 Roundtable)

Gamifying Gamification by Making It Less Gamely

In a recent post on the group blog Play the Past, I wrote about the way torture-interrogation is often described by its proponents as a kind of game. I wrestled for a long time with the title of that post: "The Gamification of Interrogation." Why? Because I oppose the general trend toward "gamifying" real world… Continue reading Gamifying Gamification by Making It Less Gamely

CFP: Close Playing: Literary Methods and Videogame Studies (MLA 2012, Seattle)

A roundtable discussion of specific approaches and close playings that explore the methodological contribution of literary studies toward videogame studies. 300-word abstract and 1-page bio to Mark Sample (samplereality@gmail.com) by March 15. All participants must be MLA members by April 7. Also note that this is a proposed special session; the MLA Program Committee will… Continue reading CFP: Close Playing: Literary Methods and Videogame Studies (MLA 2012, Seattle)

Criminal Code: The Procedural Logic of Crime in Videogames

[This is the text of my second talk at the 2011 MLA convention in Los Angeles, for a panel on "Close Reading the Digital." My talk was accompanied by a Prezi "Zooming" presentation, which I have replicated here with still images (the original slideshow is at the end of this post). In 15 minutes I… Continue reading Criminal Code: The Procedural Logic of Crime in Videogames

Digital Humanities Sessions at the 2009 MLA

Below are all of the upcoming 2009 MLA sessions related to new media and the digital humanities. Am I missing something? Let me know in the comments and I'll add it to the list. You may also be interested in following the Digital Humanities/MLA list on Twitter. (And if you are on Twitter and going… Continue reading Digital Humanities Sessions at the 2009 MLA

Spring 2010 Course Descriptions

HNRS 353: Videogames in Critical Contexts T/R 1:30-2:45pm In this Honors Seminar we will study the history and cultural impact of videogames from a number of critical perspectives. As products of a complicated network of social, economic, and technological forces, videogames are dense cultural texts, deeply layered with multiple meanings. Whether we consider early arcade… Continue reading Spring 2010 Course Descriptions

The Uncanny Valley of Action in Videogames

The agility afforded by blogging means nothing if you sit on your ideas for months or let half-written posts rot in your draft folder. That's a lesson I learned today when I discovered a host of recent references to Masahiro Mori's famous graph of the uncanny valley, mostly in reference to zombies (see posts by… Continue reading The Uncanny Valley of Action in Videogames

Television Emulation for the Atari VCS

This is absolutely stunning: Ian Bogost had his computer science students at George Tech modify Stella, the opensource Atari 2600 emulator, to reproduce the same kind of visual artifacts you would've seen when you played the VCS on a CRT television (those big boxy TVs with tubes, for those of you who don't remember). Their… Continue reading Television Emulation for the Atari VCS

A very brief review of The Passively Multiplayer Online Game (PMOG)

The Passively Multiplayer Online Game has been generating a lot of hype lately. Yesterday I installed the necessary Firefox Extension, "played" for a few minutes, and then decided to uninstall the extension and maybe come back to the game once it gets interesting. My main objection to the PMOG is this: It tries to make… Continue reading A very brief review of The Passively Multiplayer Online Game (PMOG)