Category: Academic

D&D a “threat” says Court of Appeals

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

FPS Cinema

Screenshot of "FPS Cinema"

First person perspective is highly symbolic of the subjective point of view from which we, faced an infinite amount of available information and data, create meaning. What strikes me is how common this perspective has become as part of a larger visual vocabulary in recent years. — read on

Dissertation Revolutions

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

Dissertation Reloaded

[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

NYU cont’d

NYUGameCenterlogoSeems 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

Player Modeling

One of the sexiest aspects of digital environments and online worlds is the ability monitor player behavior in an unprecedented way. Every single action, decision and event can be recorded, aggregated and analyzed on a scale that would make Orwell look like an absentee baby-sitter. — read on


Maybe it's because I just woke up in the middle of the day and watched this while the fog was still clearing up. Or maybe this 13-minute clip has some worthwhile thoughts regarding risk. — read on

NYU Summer Course on Video Games

Looking to do something this summer? Then sign up for the class I'll be teaching. It runs from June 30th to August 6th and covers video games from both an academic and industry perspective. For an abbreviated draft version of the syllabus, go here. For questions, contact me at jv2108 [at] columbia [dot] edu — read on

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