Wednesday, January 30, 2013


My roommates asked me recently if graduates focusing in game studies can claim videogames as an expense on their taxes.  It is a good question. I've certainly claimed textbooks before, and I've certainly bought a lot of games, and spent a lot of time doing some rather close analyses of them. It's especially of interest to me of late because I recently made a rather expensive purchase: I bought a PlayStation 3.

And my reasoning--or at least my justification--was based mostly on academic reasons.  Considering what I'm interested in in game studies, the PS3 has the most attractive exclusive games: Uncharted for the cinematic storytelling, Heavy Rain for the same, the procedural rhetoric of Tokyo Jungle, Ni No Kuni, which looks absolutely beautiful, some Atlus RPGs, for their game mechanics... It was definitely a purchase made with the question "what do I need to be aware of in game studies?" in mind.

The unfortunate consequence is that, as a direct result of purchasing the thing, I've staying up relatively late.  (On the upside, I've unlocked the Pig class in Tokyo Jungle.)  And because of meetings this week (which seem to keep popping up despite my personal commitment to hermitdom), I've had to be on campus very early. The result is that I'm in sort of a fugue state.  And, being an academic, my first response is to analyze it. I can still think, I can still do my readings and writings and so forth, but it all takes a lot longer.  And there's a weird pause whenever anyone tries to get my attention, though once I'm in the conversation, I'm mostly fine. But at the same time, I get the feeling I'm saying things slightly differently, that the thoughts are coming out a little more confused than usual, that I'm saying a bit more than I would otherwise.  Maybe that's why I don't have many "personal" tagged posts these days--I was sleeping too well to be un-circumspect.

Part of what's been keeping up and trying to focus is a proposal for a book chapter, which forced me down some scholarly channels this month that were a little upstream. I don't know if it'll be accepted--I feel I went a little too light on the sources--but I think the idea I came up with is worth writing, even I need to do it on a different venue.  For a little taste, it was going to be a paper that combined a close study of Catherine for the Xbox 360 and Planescape: Torment for the PC, one of my dream pairings.

I'm rambling a little tonight.  Think I'll turn in.

Later Days.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Movie Buff: Variety is the Spice of... this selection of movies

There will, sadly, be no Bibliophile this week; I was too busy doing other work. Sad, I know.  Unrelated note: I watched a lot of movies this weekend!  Brief commentary for Argo, Dredd, Offside, and a liiiiiittle bit of Pirate Radio, all after the break.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Quotations: More Like Boring to the Center of the Earth.

"Some of these movies are dreadful enough to make one think they'd been penned by Jules Verne. And yet of course they weren't, as they are still too imaginative. Journey to the Center of the Earth? It's basically a book about digging a hole. And 20, 000 Leagues under the Sea is little more than a wet Journey to the Center of the Earth. And what bizarre terrors do Verne's heroes encounter on that ocean voyage? A squid. Oh, wherever did you come up with such a fanciful creature, Mr. Verne? The encyclopedia? What an honour it is to share with you credit for inventing science fiction, even though your books are 99% science and 1% fiction." --H. G. Wells

I'd like to thank Paul F. Tompkins, for no reason.

Seriously, the Dead Authors podcast is pretty great.

Later Days.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bibliophile: Sex, Boobs, and TV: Give 'Em what they want at Thompson Rivers University

Time is an illusion. I figure if I tell myself that often enough, my readings for tomorrow will read themselves. Foolproof!

This is Bibliophile.

Today, we'll be looking at some of the new books available at Thompson Rivers University. Let's get to it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Quotations: The Quotation Who Was Friday

“The boy’s novellete may be ignorant in a literary sense, which is only like saying that a modern novel is ignorant in the chemcial sense, or the eocnomic sense, or the astronomical sense; but it is not vulgar intrinsically—it is the actual centre of a million flaming imaginations.” --G. K. Chesterton

Later Days.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Book Triad: Fun Fiction and Hard Theory

What time is it? It is book review time.

Today, we'll be looking at

Genealogy and Ontology of the Western Image and Its Digital Future by John Lechte
Galactic Pot-Healer by Philip K. Dick
Gothic Contemporaries: The Haunted Text by Joanne Watkiss

Reviews after the break.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Bibliophile: New Media, Stalkers, Girl Power, and Games at SFU

I've been playing Don't Starve. Still trying to figure out the ideal Pig King gold/red meat exchange ratio.

 This is Bibliophile.

 After the break, we'll checking up on what's new at Simon Fraser University. We've been there before, but that was about half a year ago, so I think it's due a repeat performance.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Quotation: There was a bright light, and someone slapped me.

"I remember being born. In fact, I remember a time before that. There was no light, but there was music; joints creaking, blood rushing, the heart's staccato lullaby, a rich symphony of indigestion. Sound enfolded me, and I was safe. Then my world split open, and I was thrust into a cold and silent brightness. I tried to fill the emptiness with my screams, but the space was too vast. I raged, but there was no going back. I remember nothing morel I was a baby, however peculiar. Blood and panic meant little to me. I do not recall the horrified midwife, my father's weeping, or the priest's benediction for my mother's soul." --Serfina, by Rachel Hartman. I could have posted a lot of things today. There's a Work in Progress I could've done. And I've been thinking of a new regular segment called Links I Got From Twitter Today. The week's been very interesting--meetings and gatherings, ridiculous amounts of procrastinating, then one incredibly productive two hour span for dissertation writing. I've started listening to comedy podcasts, with mixed results. But I will be doing none of those today, for today is quotation day. This is from a book I haven't actually started reading yet, but received for X-Mas all the same. It's off to a good start, I think. Not an incredibly original beginning, but a well-told one, which is more important. Later Days.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Movie Buff: Airplane!

I remember the first time I watched Airplane! as a kid, some time during the 1990s.  My family had been on a Leslie Neilsen kick, having just seen the Naked Gun series.  So I spent most of the film wondering why they were focusing on this boring younger couple instead of Nielsen.  It's very much a film of its time--there's a lot of 80s-style references that are probably going over my head.  And it's probably a sign of my post-everything digital upbringing, but the pacing seems off to me, as it does in a lot of early comedies.  There are too many bits that just seem to slow everything else down.  And I couldn't decide whether the pedophile was funny dark or just dark.  Honestly, though, I think I'm just bitter that I was so post-everything digital that I was typing away on my laptop the whole time and I missed the "Don't Call Me Shirley" line.

What I really did like about the film was the reactions.  One of my favorite parts of the film was when the elderly woman sitting next to the male lead realises that he's going to keep telling his story, and takes off her glasses in a disgusted manner.  If there was an Oscar for such performances, she should get it.  And little facial things from the bit actors keep up throughout the film.  It's nice.

Ultimately, though, the film can be summed up by the best put-down of all time:

Excuse the subtitles. And yes, that's the sort of reaction I mean.

Later Days.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

You Don't Have to Be Crazy to Kill Things in Here

I've played through about an hour and a half of Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition.  And it's been... good.  I have died a lot, though many were just a matter of getting the hang of the controls.  But I've finished the game's first hurdle, and I'd like to talk about that for a moment.  It was spoiled for me by a series of "action report"-esque accounts of the game--this series in fact, by Matt Sakey.  As such, I don't feel a lot of scruples in potentially spoiling you readers in the same way.

A few minutes after you've sat through the game's prologue and played a bit, you encounter its first boss, the Asylum Demon.  It's a big, monstrous thing, with a big, monstrous hammer, and, if you play anything like I do, you'll probably die almost immediately after beholding it for the first time.  After a few attempts to do it in, met repeatedly by more death, I notice a door off to the side away from the monster, and I rush to it so quickly I leave a digital cloud of dust behind me, ala Road Runner.  And it's at that point that things start to become a little more fair.  My broken sword pommel that I had been previously wielding is traded in for an actual dagger.  I get a shield.  I even get a fancy potion-thingy that lets me restore about 3/4 of my health five times before replenishing.  And I go up against a few more shambling undead things before I get a chance to face the demon again, this time using a cheap downward slash move that happens to take half its health.  And I still die miserably.  And then I do it again.  The third time, I actually win.  The Asylum entrance is now unguarded, and I can venture into the open world.  Ah, sweet success.

The reason I'm describing all this in detail is that I really want to promote the design structure here.  The game presented me with a seemingly impossible task, then gave me the tools to accomplish it--and equally important, it gave me the practice I needed in using those tools.  It still wasn't easy, by any means, but it was doable.  I understand that, if my skill had been sufficient, I actually could have beaten the Demon with my meagre broken sword bit.  And that would have been fine.  But that mini-epic quest that I went through, that micro-training session, was what made those skills matter.  Most games offer some sort of tutorial level, but by demonstrating so vividly why you need those skills it was about to impart, Demon Souls does so much better in convincing the players that the tutorial is necessary and useful, the stepping stone to that glorious moment of revenge.

Now if only I could attack my three day headache in a similar manner...

Later Days.

Bibliophile: Revenge of Royal Roads University

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
― Jorge Luis Borges

It has not been an easy set of days.  I had a six and a half hour delay on my flight back to Ontario on Friday, which threw the rest of my travel plans into merry havoc.  And yesterday, I struggled with the resurgence of my cold, which somehow  regained a foothold after I got up at 5:00 am for a 1:45 pm flight.  Today looks to be better.  No, it will be better.  You know why?  Because of the business at hand.  Welcome to Royal Roads University Library after the break.

This is Bibliophile.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday Quotations: Guess Where I Am

"All human life can be found in an airport." --David Walliams

Later Days.  This one can't end soon enough, though.