- Ludic Cartography. Mapping Gamespaces
- Past Projects
- Preserving Virtual Worlds
- Research and Publication
This post is an extension of my previous entry on financial games, not because it deals wholly with that section of early gaming, but instead that it highlights a certain perspective that I feel modern games have not adequately addressed; the potential for the medium to inform and shape general perceptions of both complex real world systems, and historical events. I'm aware there are many games that currently deal with both of these concepts, but I have been continually struck by the large range of subject matter present in software from the collection and the utter lack of similar focus in the modern game-scape. The items presented below will hopefully highlight what may be considered a spurious claim, that certain uses of games as communicative devices (both as vessels for history and relevant social issues) have fallen by the wayside in popular game culture.
Stanford Magazine, the publication of the Stanford Alumni Association, provides a nice piece in its November/December 2008 issue on the Preserving Virtual Worlds project. Under the title "Saving Worlds: Preserving the Digital and Virtual," neatly summarizes the project and its work, with quotations from Henry Lowood (me) and Beth Dulabahn of the Library of Congress, as well as a couple of nice photos. By the way, the workshop described in the article was "Preserving Knowledge in Virtual Worlds," put on as part of Media-X' Summ
Back in 2003, Doug Wilson prepared two video loops for the "Fictional Worlds, Virtual Experiences" show I curated with Casey Alt for the Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford. This was the first of the exhibitions the project has prepared over the years. More recently, the project has been active in Second Life, particularly through the Life-Squared project with Lynn Hershmann and the "Preserving Virtual Worlds" project.
Looking through boxes and boxes of games all day, certain covers and companies begin to stick out and rise above the tide of their more "normal" and "artisticly void" contemporaries. One such company, Psygnosis, is generally always a pleasure to behold with its colorful complex cover illustrations and equally compelling screenshots. Founded in Liverpool in 1984 by Ian Hetherington and Jonathan Ellis, Psygnosis was known for its intense graphical presentation and technical excellence. The company's logo, a white and purple owl head, became a hallmark of the first generation Playstation and was attached to several seminal titles including the WipeOut series, Destruction Derby, and the less famous Colony Wars.
In thinking about what to post, I was debating many different topics, most having to do with some company's history or maybe a specific box motif from the mid-80s. Then I opened a storage container that seemed to crystalize the post-to-be in my mind and tie in two very important trends from the modern newscape. The first being the impending collapse of the capitalist system, and the second, the rise in videogame sales.
I am happy to announce that Avatar. An Experience into the Virtual World will open on October 10 2008 at the Museo Tridentino di Art Naturali in Trento, Italy. Curated by Carlo Maiolini, Avatar is a major event dedicated to the art and culture of virtual worlds. If you're lucky enough to travel to Northern Italy this Fall you will find a piece of both How Got Game and the Stanford Humanities Lab in the exhibition. In fact, I had the opportunity to contribute to the production of Avatar together with many Italian researchers, journalists, and curators.
Although I have a good deal of posts in the pipe that are more edifying to the history of video games, it's going to be a little bit longer. So in the mean time I figure I'd share with you one of my favorite Nintendo finds of late. The 1990 Nintendo Power Game Calendar, rife with daring, intrigue, and terrible looking 3D monstrocities. Won't you take a look?