Next week I'm speaking at the Festival of Games in Amsterdam. It's a curious thing, really, considering how tiny Holland is, and yet how active its games industry is. There are only a handful of internationally known game companies, such as Guerrilla Games (Killzone!) and Spilgames. But there's a substantial number of small and medium-sized companies out there. So I figured I'd go and check it out. — read on
A few days ago the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that Dungeons & Dragons presented a "threat" to prison security. Kevin T. Singer, an inmate at Wisconsin's Waupun Correctional Institution, was so devoted that it raised concern among the guards. He wrote, by hand, "a ninety six page manuscript outlining the specific details of a "campaign setting" he developed for use in D&D gameplay." For well over two years, no one thought twice about Singer's regular incoming stream of D&D mailings. This changed when Bruce Muraski, Waupun's "Disruptive Group Coordinator," received an anonymous letter from an inmate expressing concern
"that Singer and three other inmates were forming a D&D gang and were trying to recruit others to join by passing around their D&D publications and touting the “rush” they got from playing the game." (3)— read on
Because I was trying to understand virtual items and micro-transactions, I researched the trading card industry. It made sense to me to consider the fundamentals from an industry that has been around for a while as a yard stick to relatively new terrain. (Yes, yes, looking forward through the rearview mirror. Thanks McLuhan. Now go back to bed.) Today I found a similar parallel between the incentivized game design so common in social games (e.g. Farmville) and pinball machines. — read on
Two days ago I submitted draft 2 of The Disseration (tm) at 3:00 am. After my committee had punched some initial holes in it, the whole thing is in much better shape. It even has a spiffy new title: Social Gaming and Discursive Play: Games as Communicative Exchange.
This dissertation shows that video games are a highly social phenomenon, because playing is a form of expression. Traditionally, however, the study of the phenomenon has focused primarily on their socially detrimental ‘effects.’ I argue that this is the result of applying a linear, informational model of communication in studying video games. In its place I offer a contextual approach, and situate contemporary video games in a larger set of media practices.
Conventional wisdom on video games makes the following two assumptions. The first is that play, leisure and games are frivolous activities that exist as separate realms from everyday life. The second is that games “cannot express ideas, impressions, feelings, or information unrelated to the game itself.” (Limbaugh 2002) Combined, this amounts to regarding the phenomenon of video games as a suspicious activity that encourages a-social behavior, varying between a loss of social capital and outright violent behavior.— read on
[As I'm entering the final stages of writing The Dissertation (tm), I will be posted snippets online. You know, for purposes of fair use and the hope that seeing my own handiwork in a different context may help writing better. In this first installment, you'll find a section from the Introduction chapter, where I lay out the general theoretical approach. Comments welcome.] In studying communication and media we are confronted with the problem of how to describe what we experience, in the broadest sense, in the midst of experiencing it. Succinctly speaking, the former necessitates a consciousness that negates the latter. Moreover, for the same reason that we cannot escape our own media technological moment in order to describe it, we also cannot enter into one from which we are spatially, temporally, or epistemologically removed. Panofsky’s Perspective as Symbolic Form, a classic text in the fields of architecture and art history, reminds us that “it is essential to ask of artistic periods and regions not only whether they have perspective, but also which perspective they have.” (41) — read on
Seems like they have their site up, finally. Right now, I'm preparing the syllabus for the fall semester and persuading industry folk to come out and talk to my students. I'm also be meeting the NYU Game Center's interim director Frank Lantz to discuss a few extra-curricular activities. — read on
In what is likely to make its rounds on the Interwebs already in full force, a recent study finds that the average male gamer is 35 years old, has a higher body mass index and "a greater number of poor mental health days." — read on
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Joost is fascinated by games and human behavior. His research explores video games as an entryway to contemporary media culture. After completing a Master's degree in Media studies in Amsterdam, he continued his research in New York. There he was project manager on a landmark investigation of three decades of ownership trends in the American media landscape, the results of which were part of a congressional testimony, a series of articles and a book. In 2010 he received his doctorate from Columbia University for his dissertation titled "Social Gaming and Communicative Exchange." Joost currently teaches at the NYU Game Center.
In addition to his academic pursuits, Joost is also founder and CEO of an online games research firm called SuperData. In early 2010 the company secured multi-year seed funding, and today employs five people. Clients include publishers such as Electronic Arts, SEGA, Wargaming.net and Pokémon as well as all the major Wall street firms.
Joost lives in the East Village with his wife Janelle and son Maximus.Selected Presentations