Posts filed under ‘books’

This Month in Academic Research Jul 2013 (it’s about video game research)

I follow video game research via scholar.google.com
Here are a few interesting papers I came across this month.

http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-39241-2_39

FPS games, what are they good for? Apparently they cure amblyopia aka lazy eye and the researchers in question have created a positive preschool friendly FPS game in order to help deal with it. So yes in a preschool somewhere… Children are being taught FPS mechanics before they can probably even read. Future exports champions beware, Lazy Eye Shooter is getting kids hooked on the genre before most kids even own a game system. Not sure if this pay to access article has screenshots though.

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0068382

In the seemingly never ending war of video games bad, video games good, this article finds that violent video don’t have a negative effect on social skills at odds with previous research.

http://revistaaloma.net/index.php/aloma/article/download/184/122

There are simply so many articles criticizing and complaining about video games, and a few praising that this over view of the “effects of video games on young people” will help summarize both the negatives (college course work takes a dive) and positives (the usual spatial skills argument). If you’re not familiar with research into the effects of video games on players, this little short, and free paper will help get you up to speed on the concepts.

igitur-archive.library.uu.nl/student-theses/2013-0627-200619/jeremy%20falger%20BA%20thesis%20findings%20analysis%20chapter%20.docx
Battlefield 3, it made war look like really cool CNN footage, in this thesis the author takes apart the way BF3 presents scenes in order to justify or vilify violence. If any of those BF3 moments disturbed you with their pro-Iraq overtones, this paper will at least give you some insight into how the game managed to get you so pumped up for an unpopular war.

uhra.herts.ac.uk/handle/2299/10980
Autistic kids they score higher than us, but they have no friends. They also are way more likely to be into video games. Now researchers are trying to give them robot friends to play with, which means they will officially be significantly cooler than you ever will be.

https://aaltodoc.aalto.fi/handle/123456789/10347

I can’t even access this article from my iPad, but I had no idea there was a theory of comedy much less that a serious ludology had been developed to analysis of it in games. Would love to read this and I think it’s free to access, but can’t take a look in Chrome.

psycnet.apa.org/journals/drm/23/2/97/
This is a weird one, apparently gamers in the military are less likely to have nightmares than non-gamers. The paper then replicated this experiment on college students to only find that male high end gamers seem to be immune to nightmares. However female gamers are more likely to have nightmares after playing games. Then again just imagine playing a game and identifying with the damsel in distress. Unfortunately you have to pay for the full journal, but the abstract does get you thinking…

uwispace.sta.uwi.edu/dspace/handle/2139/15864
Games used to help deaf children in Trinidad communicate and also to chronicle their culture. Results were increased scores in numerous subjects and better social inclusion of deaf students! Way to go games!

http://www.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=lllCnJu_5yAC&oi=fnd&pg=PA161&dq=%22video+games%22&ots=VX7IXLBrWY&sig=r8k8YhwcLrZc2KUxIUbXUmvrnNo

In this excerpt from a book The Development and Meaning of Psychological Distance the author summarizes a surprisingly good wealth of information about games and how they develop our sense of space and by extension distance. I found the author’s summaries really rousing and quite fun, I also like the idea of a bunch of researchers sitting around an arcade in the 1980s asking Star Wars fans to take a spatial reasoning test after playing a vector based 3D game. Especially because it was this Star Wars game:

http://hmi.ewi.utwente.nl/verslagen/capita-selecta/RT-Veen-Gijs-van.pdf

Brain machine interfaces are becoming more common and in this paper a few game designers at a University in the Netherlands ponder what games could be made using these interfaces. Cool idea and one that hopefully will be down out of Academia soon.

http://arxiv.org/abs/1307.3195
The march of A.I. Continues in this paper for arxiv researchers outlay a plan to take a.i. From robots and use it towards games. A.i. Continues to be a field that games don’t excel at…. Except Creatures and the new game by the guy who made Creatures.

http://www.helloliefje.com/wp-content/uploads/Thesis-final.pdf

Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, video game players showed up having faster intuitive solutions to moral dilemmas and strangely preferring non-violent solutions. “the contrary, those who played single player games displayed a clear intuition to save people, regardless of the violent means necessary. Regarding multi-player gaming, those who were exposed to such games showed a shared intuition to accept a dilemma involving mid-distanced violence, in the face of saving many lives. Gamers in general, regardless of what games they play most, were found to be more accepting of a non-violent, utilitarian dilemma when compared with the control.”

http://oficinas.incubadora.ufsc.br/index.php/sciofgaming/index

The Science of Gaming is new open source Brazilian journal of games research. Worth a look especially because the papers are free. The abstracts are in English,but the papers might be in Portuguese.

akspublication.com/Editorial_Jul2013_.pdf
Computer vision syndrome is when excessive computer use causes headaches, blurred vision, and other eye related problems. This paper covers a few easy remedies for computer vision.

www.yordiverkroost.nl/vu/paper_sct.pdf
In this rather accessible review of literate on serious games, the author describes several serious games used in military training and the place and problems serious games present to the classroom. Worth a read just for the overview.

http://digitallibrary.srmuniv.ac.in/dspace/handle/123456789/9626
Research from India suggests video games harm children’s eye sight decreasing their ability to learn in the classroom. In other words all those kids playing lazy eye shooter might also being getting refractive errors in their sight, a condition curable by wearing glasses, but optometry is not as widely available or affordable in India as it is in the first world.

http://www.goodgamesbydesign.com/Files/Chapter5_Flow_Motivation_Fun_Final_WebVersion.pdf
Many educational games are little more than flash cards and drills in disguise, in this paper several prominent serious games researchers take on the psychological terms flow and motivation and proceed to outline games for the classroom you might want to actually play!

http://www.google.co.th/books?id=fJ4GxyLzIOoC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_atb#v=onepage&q&f=false

Roger Ebert wrote a blog post about it, this dude wrote an entire book. Are video games art? From legal definitions to more esoteric aspects of aesthetics, Marc Ryan… Has a surprisingly short sample on google books. But regardless, if you need a long arguement for the artistic merit of video games, this book has you covered in more than just title.

July 30, 2013 at 7:51 am Leave a comment

Qoutes: Sontag, Eno, others

Sorry about the fact this blog is basically just a bunch of my links these days, anyway reading Sontag’s In America (it’s quite good, but the intellectual conversation she’s responding to is so familar to make many of the ideas trite).

“I can’t help thinking a person who sneezes in an absurd way is also lacking in self-respect. Why else consent to something so unattractive? It ought to be a matter of concertration and resolve to sneeze gracefully, candidly. Like a handshake.”

“And God is abetting all this. This longing for newness, emptiness, pastlessness. This dream of turning life into pure future. Perhaps He has no choice-though, in so doing, God the Star is signing His own death warrant as an actor, as the star of stars. No longer will He be guaranteed the major role in any drama of consequence attended by the most coveted, educated audiences. At best, minor roles from now on-except in picturaseque backwaters, where people have never seen a play without Him. All this moving the audience about will amount to the end of His career.

Does God know this? Probably he does. But that won’t stop Him: He’s a trouper.

God Spits. ”

It’s fucking hilarious, and a rather good summary of the movement away from religion dating around this time historically in the novel to Darwin and a harbinger of Neitsche.

“She wished she were in love, for being helplessly in love awakens one’s better self. But when marriage puts an end to that, it is deliverance. Love makes men strong, self-confident. It makes women weak. Friendship, though… that was another matter. Friends make you strong.”

“You are whatever you think you are… Whatever you dare think you are. And to be free to think yourself something you’re not, something better than what you are-isn’t that the true freedom promised by the country to which he was journeying?”

“The first morning he masturbated to the mental image of a fat brown walrus slowly turning from side to side.”

Clearly she had a deep understanding of male desire.

All qoutes from In America by Susan Sontag

And one from Eno via an old copy of Frieze:

“Saying that cultural objects have value is like saying that telephones have conversations.”

Dan Fox qoutes it from Brian Eno,A year with Swollen Appendices, Faber and Faber, London, 1996

And finally Pynchon, ” ‘Explosion with out an objective’, delcared Miles Blundell, ‘is politics in its purest form.’ ” from against the day

p.s. added amazon referrals to make the blog more long-tail-ish.

September 14, 2008 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Review: Mystery Train by Greil Marcus

One of the bigger problems of criticism, is that it’s quite easy to decipher the symptoms of a music that will cause its decimation, but it’s harder to write a piece of criticism that can actually make the listener listen anew. Marcus, and for that matter myself, fall into the first category. Mr. Marcus is adept at finding the limits of various American music genres nailing them down to specific mind sets he situates with the experience of American culture, but he’s unable to elaborate where music should go and by extension Americans. Some asides are made to Randy Newman, who breaks with the confessional style of the sixties and seventies, and Sly Stone, but for the most part Marcus sets out to explore a body of music he’s a master at murdering. However, regardless of how Marcus kills his subjects, he does so humanely and with a fondness that merely shows that thinking often leads to music falling flat. Mystery Train is still an essential piece of criticism, because it’s heart lies in a mind-set that bands today don’t just situate themselves around, but actively worship with nostalgia.

The bigger problem with Marcus is that the albums he charts his America through had an entirely different impact when he was writing about them, then as they do now. The Band’s Big Pink coming after their electric period with Dylan was another amoebic growth of the post-sixties generation, a time when the children out numbered the adults and their new found trends didn’t just signal next seasons fashion, but a potential swurve in the hippie majority’s concerns. For someone born in the post-sixties generation the Band is just another way for AT&T’s creative staff to pitch next year’s cellphones with a catchy toon (and no I don’t think that degrades the song).

One of Mystery Train’s greater reasons for infamy is simply that Marcus was living through a time when music critics were important and publications like Rolling Stone really did break with literary conventions, but the groups he’s picked often line up with the shocks that radio gave at the time and the pressing mysteries of who invented rock and roll. Greil is great at finding flaws, but it’s really the critics who invert history, who destroy listening, who can re-imagine the music of their times that are most memorable, many of the sixties generation of critics were engaged in the game of second guessing the history of their music as it happened as if music criticism was a game of deciding who would ultimately become important. In the late nineties music criticism differed, and such questions of epic quality didn’t touch upon us, perhaps someone would argue the merits of the most experimental band at the moment or something, but few seemed to be convinced anyone today was making history. The creative process has been taken apart taught in design courses and dispersed on web-logs to the point that we have exhaustion at the means through which a band is attempting to achieve the new. Mystery Train at the very least caught a creativity of a different sort, one of place and alienation with the only connector being the am radio dial. It is, a testimony to the individual and a totem of them.

June 9, 2008 at 6:49 am Leave a comment

Qoutes from Mystery Train

As a former music critic, I know exactly how he feels:

“the white country music…there was a problem with that music. It so perfectly expressed the acceptance and fatalism of its audience… that the music brought all it had to say to the surface, told no secrets, and had no use for novelty. It was conservative in an almost tragic sense, because it carried no hope of change, only respite. By the early fifties this music was all limits.” Page 17

“Rock ‘n’ roll is suffering from the old progressive school fallacy that says if what you write is about your own feelings, no one can criticize it. Truth telling is beginning to settle into a slough where it is nothing more than a pedestrian autobiography set to placid music framed by a sad smile on the album cover… singers have dispensed with imagination and songs are just pages out of a diary with nothing in them that could give them a life of their own.”  Page 105 This perfectly describes Emo in everyway possible.

All qoutes from Greil Marcus

June 4, 2008 at 5:49 pm Leave a comment

You Don’t Love my Yet by Lethen, On Kafka, Hermneutics and Homosexuality

Kafka isn’t about human beaurarcy, but the beauracy of ideas. How they come to operate
and how they defy logic in their own way. He was essentially providing metaphors
for agency before Latour and others were giving birth to them, his novels are about
reaching ideas through the convulotion of institutions and barriers that keeps thinking
for ever really acheiving it’s goals. It’s about arriving.

You Don’t Love Me Yet by Johnathan Lethem
I have a tendency to skimp on novels, but go in on movies.
While I feel a strange guilt (perhaps do to my Dad’s own reluctance
to splurge on my reading habit years ago) when it comes to buying books
and never finishing them, I am literally still swimming in piles of DVDs I’ve never
finished, to sit through a movie I don’t like for 2 hours is nothing compared to
barely even breaching a book I might enjoy. But Lethem’s latest managed to make
it past my inherint biases and into my bookcase, and it was well worth the read.
It’s a romance story set in Los Angeles which takes place between neurotic complainers,
indie rock singers, and conceptual artists.Lethem’s prose strides down the halls of
enjoyment like an arch-conceptualist brisking down his galleries hallways, never caring
for aesthetics, but merely for ideas. Hermenuetics and erotics fuck as one in Lethem’s prose.

His characters are often only softened by their humor their personalities aren’t just flawed, but are written with an almost uncanny exagerration of their features. At that, I get the feeling Lethem understands his complainer and his artist more than his indie rock bands, I can think of few people who remind me of Bedwin, Lucinda, or the vegetarian lead singer Matthew. Their counter-cultural bohemia is almost parody while the complainer is a concept rapped into a very sexy and satisfying enigma (I found myself thinking of myself as Lucinda in the sex scenes). Perhaps it’s merely my own immersion in such rock scenes that blinds me, when I think about it a kangaroo in the bathroom isn’t out of bounds for many I know, but atypical. Regardless, Mr.Lethem (picked up 3 books by him today on sale ay my bookstore) has written not just an enjoyable book, but possibly the summation of a generations’ ennui. Read it, please. it’s good.

Question of the day:
Why are homosexuality and heremeneutics so often interlinked? What gay artists
didn’t employ interpretation as a means of creating aesthetics? and how have they defied
the either or stance of Sontag in relations to hermeneutics and erotics in art? Mapplethorpe interpreted the body as sculptural, but in effect he made erotics out of it, and in one case thoroughly defused the eroticism of homosexuality for the sake of aesthetics. Other examples:
Todd Haynes, Matmos, Wolgang Tillman, Nan Goldin, etc. Counter examples exist but let’s just say for arguement etc.
Perhaps it’s merely timing, but I get the feeling something in
homosexuality is leading artists these ways. The experience of it, is teaching them something about the malleability of identity and the potential for intentionality in places where typically we accept the pre-existing to be standard and acceptable.

November 27, 2007 at 2:49 pm Leave a comment

Qoutes Pynchon, Arendt, and others

The new Pynchon has the usual oblique commentary in the form of prose poem i.e. epigrams. Here are a few from the first 100 or so pages. I might add Against the Day has hooked me much more quickly than Mason & Dixon, but it addresses concerns much more practical and down to earth than Gravity’s Rainbow.

“As the ordeal went on, it became clear to certain of these balloonists, observing from above and poised ever upon a cusp of mortal danger, how much the modern State depended for its survival on maintaining a condition of permanent siege-through the systematic encirclement of populations, the starvation of bodies and spirits, the relentless degradation of civility until citizen was turned against citizen, even to the point of committing atrocities like those of the infamous petroleurs of Paris.” – Against The Day, T. Pynchon

“Many people believe that there is a mathematical correlation between sin, penance, and redemption. More sin, more penance, and so forth. Our own point has always been that there is no connection. All the variables are independent. You do penance not because you have sinned but because it is your destiny. You are redeemed not through doing penance but because it happens. Or doesn’t happen.” – Against The Day

There’s a website for discussing the book with line by line breakdowns here:
http://chumpsofchoice.blogspot.com/

———————————–

I’ve also been reading a lot of Hannah Arendt these days, mostly because I find her thinking pretty fascinating. It’s refreshing to read someone with a value set unlike mine, but with whom I occasionally intersect in different ways. Regardless, she has more stuff that surprised me than Pynchon, so a few more quotes from her.

“And though one may argue that all notions of man creating himself have in common a rebellion against the very factuality of the human condition-nothing is more obvious than that man, whether as member of the species or as an individual, does not owe his existence to himself- and that therefore what Sartre, Marx, and Hegel have in common is more relevant than the particular activities through which this non-fact should presumably have come about, ” – Hannah Arendt, On Violence

One of the things I like abut Arendt is that I don’t understand her perspective sometimes. This phrase which obviously goes against the existentialist idea of man creating himself, I don’t disagree with, but what does Arendt think make up people (genetics? cultural construction? environment?) is not specified.

“Fanon’s worst rhetorical excesses, such as, ‘hunger with dignity is preferable to bread eaten in slavery.’ No history and no theory is needed to refute this statement… Reading these irresponsible grandiose statements-and those I quoted are fairly representative…one is tempted to deny their significance.” – Hannah Arendt, On Violence

I’m an idealist and find Arendt’s ordering or values here interesting. That she feels it’s better to live as a slave than say die for your ideals is well when I think about it probably the more likely path most people will take, and for that matter what the slaver prefers.

“To think, finally, that there is such a thing as a ‘Unity of the Third Word,’ to which one could address the new slogan in era of decolonization ‘Natives of all underdeveloped countries unite!'(Sartre) is to repeat Marx’s worst illusions on a greatly enlarged scale and with considerably less justification. The Third World is not a reality but an ideology.” – Arendt, On Violence

Exactly.

“If we look on history in terms of a continuous chronological process, whose progress, moreover is inevitable, violence in the shape of war and revolution may appear to constitute the only possible interruption.” – Arendt, On Violence

“Power corresponds to the human ability not just to act but to act in concert. Power is never the property of an individual; it belongs to a group and remains in existence only so long as the group keeps together… It is in the nature of a group and its power to turn against independence, the property of individual strength” – Arendt

————————————–

“Sze’s work offers arrangements of unexplained significance which mimic confused reality and to a degree reconcile one to it.” – Peter Campbell on Sarah Sze http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n19/camp01_.html

October 29, 2007 at 4:37 am Leave a comment

Spook Country by Gibson, Scrublands by Joe Daly, Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan

Spook Country

It’s good but surprising. Gibson’s previous books work up to a clever use of technology that often subverts or changes society or yeah know it’s a kinda how do all these techno-cultural parts come together type of thing, Spook Country is more about simply a good story that’s climax is surprising simply because it’s underwhelming. Gibson’s riffs on the future of the U.S. Latin American population (he for-sees hyper-hip locative art and Cuban infused techno… both which already exist when I think about it) are interesting and his imagining of the artistic possibilities of GPS are pretty cool too. Gibson continues to take on the ghosts of post-9/11 politics with a peculair gusto, but then again it’s William Gibson and what else is he going to write about. Book probably ain’t worth it if you aren’t a fan (pattern recognition is about a 100x better), but it’s enjoyable.

Scrublands

Joe Daly is a South African cartoonist whose work centers on hipsters and their remarkably bohemian lives. Daly’s work reminds of the better parts of sixties acid drenched comics, but it’s commentary on South Africa and it’s consistent play on modern day traumas (Aqua Boy is briskly divorced from his father and  Daly has a heavy obsession with vaginas) definitely make it seem more modern day. Daly, seems to feel his generation of Africans and the olde counter-culture of old have a lot in common. He’s probably correct and Kobosh is probably the best cartoon character in quite a while.

Exit Wounds

Rutu Modan is one of the founders of an Israeli comics foundation similar to  L’Association in France or Fantagraphics in the US. Her work though differs from almost any other illustrator I can think of, her stories are full of pathos and while much of indie comics is male and often sexual, Modan writes charming short stories that deal more with the slight imperfections of the pysche that bother us day to day. Exit Wounds centers around a cab driver (Koby) whose father spends his day seducing women of all ages and one of his ex-lovers (Numi) a well off Israeli who’s a tad ruff around the edges and finishing up her time in the military. Numi is convinced Koby’s father is dead and Koby, who seems to have been extremely estranged from his father, doesn’t care. The two end up trecking around Israel where in they end up finding out Koby’s dad is alive and well it’s a good story. What makes Modan so different is that the story really does center on the minor travesties and heart break of her characters, while many comics dismantle the emotions of the protoganist unless they’re A. performing a superhuman feat or B. having sex with a woman Modan’s palette of emotion is diverse and the dimension she draws out of her characters has depth that even most novelists could use. Exit Wounds doesn’t hinge on a quest for identity or any such higher goal, it merely focuses on a short moment in a couple of young Israeli lives, the influence of politics on them, and finally with the way resolve their own problems. It’s wonderful and well worth reading.

October 3, 2007 at 8:23 am Leave a comment

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