Sunday, November 7, 2010

An Update (or lack thereof)


It has been some time since I have updated Critical Damage, and I apologise for that. The good news is that this is largely because I have been busy writing elsewhere. So until I finally finish off one of the three half-written posts that I am meaning to post here, I thought I would update you all on what I have actually been doing.
Firstly, and consuming the majority of my writing time, Towards Dawn is now up to Day Thirty-One and till going strong. I've had some crazy adventures and seen some amazing sights. I'm still unsure just how and when the saga will end, but when it does, I would very much like to compile the whole series as an e-book for people to download. 
Still Minecraft related, I am now a writer over at CraftHub. I'll be posting things as often as I find things worth posting about and have time to post them. I would also like to use the opportunity to perhaps write some more in-depths pieces on this game that has consumed so much of my gaming time this year. 
This past week has also seen my first two print articles published. Hyper 206 has my Minecraft guide "The Craft of Mining" in the Front End section, and Kill Screen #2 has a story I wrote called "Capture the School". I haven't received my copy of Kill Screen yet, but if the past two issues are anything to go by, it will be absolutely stunning and well worth your money--and less of your money than previously! Seriously, you will not find a better collection of game writing this side of the internet. As for Hyper, issue 206 is something of deputy editor Dylan's lovechild. He has put a lot of work into this issue and it really shows. If you are in Australia and walking by a news agency, go in and pick it up.
At the academic end, I am putting a paper together that I will hopefully get to submit for the OZCHI 'Games and HCI: A Long Romance' workshop later this month. The topic is going to be a furthering of an essay I wrote for a course this semester that looks at applying some Actor-Network Theory stuff to my interest int he relationship between player and character. The more ANT stuff I read (predominately just the work of Bruno Latour at the moment, I admit), the closer I feel I am getting to articulating what I actually am talking about when I talk about player privilege. I'm not sure on the copyright specifics of OZCHI papers, but assuming I am allowed, I will post the completed paper here after the workshop.
And that is where I currently am with my writing. I am also doing quite a bit of reading in preparation for Honours next year and my dissertation Similar to the above OZCHI thing, I will be looking at the player/character relationship through an ANT lens, which consequently will probably mean I will end up looking at the player/character/everything-else relationship if I am not careful. But more on that in the coming months.
As for games I have been playing, I sadly have not had much time to get too committed to any new games. I am still spending many hours in Minecraft, both in my nomad game and my more traditional games. I've also, quite recently, discovered the joy of multiplayer servers. I am not one for building towns, but just knowing that other people are in the same world certainly adds something to the experience. The joy of mining with a couple of comrades is also something I underestimated.
I have also been playing quite a lot of Super Meat Boy. The game is absolutely stunning and deserves all the praise it has received. The controls feel absolutely perfect. I love the way my entire body tenses as I realise that this is the run that will shave .02 seconds off my time if I can just clear this last jump. The game also acts as a sign of maturity of the medium of gaming. The multitude of intertextual references to other games is only possible because of the maturity of videogames as a medium. Somewhat related, I really enjoyed Michael Abbott's writeup of the game.
And apart from my nightly wind down in Audio-Surf, that is about all the gaming I have done. I dabbled in Red Dead Redemption's Undead Nightmare DLC (the subject of one of my unfinished posts for Critical Damage), and I still hit up Reach from time to time. I am yet to get Fallout: New Vegas; however, I think I may pick up a copy this week to keep me occupied after I get my wisdom teeth ripped out on Thursday. 
And that is my update. Hopefully it will not be so long until the next one, and hopefully it will be more interesting than this one. Oh, and one last thing! Along with several other handsome, game-writing gentlemen, I am growing (or attempting to grow) a mustache for Movember. If you want to help men with depression and prostrate cancer, or if you just like laughing at how foolish we all look, you should totally consider donating some coins to our team.

2 comments:

Before Game Design said...

From Reassembling the Social p. 141

Student: Am I bothering you?

Professor: Not at all. These are my office hours. come in, have a seat.

S: Thank you.

P: So...I take it that you are a bit lost?

S: Well, yes. I am finding it difficult, I have to say, to apply Actor Network Theory to my case study on organizations.

P: No wonder! It isn't applicable to anything.

S: Sorry, but are you playing some sort of Zen trick here? I have to warn you that i'm just a straight Organization Studies doctoral student, so don't expect...I'm not too much into French stuff either, just read a bit of Thousand Plateaus but couldn't make much sense of it...

P: Sorry, i wasn't trying to say anything cute. Just that ANT is first of all a negative argument. It does not say anything positive on any state of affairs.

S: So what can it do for me?

P: The best it can do for you is to say something like, 'when your informants mix up organization, hardware, psychology, and politics in one sentence, don't break it down first into neat little pots; try to follow the link they make among those elements that would have looked incommensurable if you had followed normal procedures.' That's all. ANT can't tell you positively what the link is....It's a theory, and a strong one I think, but about how to study things, or rather how not to study them-or rather, how to let the actors have some room to express themselves.

Brendan said...

Thanks for forcing me to re-read that, Nick. :p

I think my biggest fear with working with ANT is using the wrong language. Until I got to that exact page of the book, I was talking about using an ANT 'framework' and I had to hastily reword the entire essay I was working on.

I'm pretty nervous about the traps I am inevitably going to fall into when I misuse ANT the first few times, but I guess that is the only way I will understand how to use it properly. :)