While all of us have full-time jobs and have little time, we still like to get together and geek out over stuff. What better-a-way to do that when you live on opposite sides of the country than to create a podcast! Co-hosts Robyn Miller, Muaz Z., and Ben Janca and industry special guests join me in geeking out over games, media, and literature.
After finishing our first season we went on a brief hiatus and currently just upload when we find the time.
According to a press release from last September by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the suicide rate of veterans in the United States is 22% greater than non-veteran citizens. “We know that of the 20 [veteran] suicides a day that we reported last year, 14 are not under VA care,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin in the report. “This is a national public health issue that requires a concerted, national approach.” Even without this data, it’s easy to see that war affects all lives intertwined with its pervasive web. Being deployed overseas is not a nine-to-five job; war doesn’t stop for coffee breaks or lunch dates. And, over the last few years, there is an increasing lack of belief in the support the VA can offer veterans returning home; a question in credibility that stemmed from whistle-blowers who, in 2015, made the claim that hundreds of thousands of veterans have died while on the VA’s waitlist for healthcare.
Why events like Dragon Con are holding contemporary geek culture together where E3 falls short, and how that is changing the industry.
It’s around 11 p.m. on a Saturday in Atlanta, Georgia. I am standing in a sea of people all of who are staring, in a sort of trance, at a strange amalgamation of pirate and goth singing sea-shantyish songs. Tongue-and-cheek lyrics that border on macabre and irreverence fill our ears, and we rise and fall with the sway of words despite the gruesome undertones—a stark contrast to the last hour, where we listened to the Atlanta Phil Harmonic Orchestra play music from film and television favorites. And the hour before that, when we perused an entire floor of artwork that ranged from Greek and Norse Mythology to dragons, faeries, and cats. Or before that, when we joined 600 other people and listened to the musings of Jim Butcher.
(This article was written as part of my graduate thesis and is part of my on-going research in education, rhetoric, and games.)
A few weeks ago I took part in a panel at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco that explored the relevance of video games—of what scholar James Paul Gee calls a “problem of content,” in which we only value an artifact as educational if it provides tangible content (22). At the conference major developers and game designers gathered together to talk about what the medium of games was to become with the incessant invectives of games being “a waste of time” or “a phase to grow out of.” If that’s all games are, then what’s the point of working in them? As a field, we need to find a way to elucidate these claims. We need to shine light on video games as a medium that has the potential to serve alongside traditional artifacts accepted in an artistic and academic setting, while also realizing that some games are simply meant to be used as entertainment or escapism. Regardless, the level of interactivity games allow have proven to provide profound effects on cognitive enhancement, but we can only use them progressively if they are taken serious both by their audience and their creators. Ian Bogost argues that games should be discussed alongside “traditional media subjects,” and that “teaching games alongside reading, writing, and debating them as argumentative and expressive practices” can help evolve the way we look at rhetoric in new media (136). Thus the aim of this project, inspired largely by this conversation, is to explore how video games create meaning through their design—ultimately looking at how games apply and use multi-modal rhetorical devices to influence players in a manner that other mediums may not be able to.
As an educator, I have an interest in researching how video games can help us to better understand learning through interaction, play, and experience. Despite their often negative reputation for being a “waste of time,” video games still provide us with a unique medium of entertainment because they require direct interaction from the player. This aspect introduces a new dimension in how forms of entertainment and media affect us, especially in fields like medicine and psychology.
There was a point in time where I thought I was immune to the gender of a protagonist in a game or movie. The majority of games I played, unless an RPG that allowed you to build a character, presented a male as the quintessential hero. I didn’t mind. I was young and accepted it.
But a spark ignited when I first saw that Samus, from the Metriod series, was a female. Precipitously, this character meant so much more. For the first time, the vulnerabilities I often felt about being a girl were shed.