Monday, October 22, 2007


I started this blog to share my thoughts on games, knowing that I come from a different gaming culture than most folks I know who do research on videogames. Hey, I only played Mario Kart once in my life (after coming to the US) while having played weird eighties English games with blue furry monsters squashing eyeballs for dinner.

This will be an outlet for me to write things related or unrelated to the topic of my Ph.D. thesis-in-the-making (actually in-the-planning-of-making), which is roughly gaming discourse, gamer subculture and videogame as an emerging medium. I would usually discuss these things over a beer, but I'd always instantly forget everything I had said.

I must admit that in certain respects, I am an obnoxious retro gamer. Not only do I adore clean and elegant game design. I used to romanticize computer technology as something that is intricate and clumsy and unreliable and requires a certain amount of arcane power to operate. Maybe it was the special knowledge, the wisdom, the ability of making sense of things others would take for a random bunch of pixels, the specific discursive strategies, that separated gamers from the crowd. The gaming discourse at the time and in the place I joined the digital playground seemed to be concerned more with being able to run a game then actually playing it. And, because most of the games were pirate copies which had to be copied and catalogued, the life of a gamer was a damn lot focused storing it and passing it around. (How much fun of the early gaming was/is given simply by the fact that it is on a computer, which is still new to us? Were we or are we amazed by the technology or by our capability of mastering that technology?).

I also experienced gaming as subculture, as something that was so cool to be part of, because it was just emerging and we didn't know what it would be capable of (We still don't know, but I feel gaming as such has become mainstream, though particular niches might have subcultural features). And the views of videogame as an emerging medium is one of the things I definitely want to find out more about.

I love to talk about old games and I bring up forgotten stuff; and I love to play (or watch) state-of-the-art games and marvel at new hardware. I am a gamer, but a picky one.

Right now I have got three topics lined out: first, I always wanted to write an article on British early eighties Thatcher-era videogames dominated by working class heroes; miners and trashmen. This might lead into a discussion of culture-specific content and identity in videogames, which has been mostly relegated into Japan, hasn't it?

I would like to write a piece that would look at the conflict of the design and the use of a technology and the discursive process of redesigning that takes place in the specialist discourse, focusing on the ZX Spectrum platform (a computer amazingly unsuitable for videogames that became a predominantly gaming machine) as viewed by the platform-specific magazines. Might it help to find the moment when a technology becomes a medium?

The third topic, what are our fan relations to games? And game designers?

I have more things in mind, some of them as deep as the Stygian abyss. Stay tuned. Oh, and the musket-firing-Umpani-soldier picture comes from the game I spent the most time with. The vast, incomprehensible, insane(ly difficult), over-the-top psychedelic Crusaders Of The Dark Savant, one of the weirdest Western RPGs. Play it if you miss getting lost.

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