Friday, 22 February 2008

Thursday, 21 February 2008


So today I lecture to Games and Animation students about the use of internet sources in preparation for their dissertations. Last year I opened the lecture with Wikipedia open on the big screen behind me on the 'Luddite' page. I am aware that I will come across as the most reactionary anti-technology, anti-freedom of information traditionalist thug trying to make their lives harder by refusing them the easy option of Google as solution to everything.

And yet I have been known to venture online. I even use Wikipedia as a starting place when I want to find something in a hurry. I look up the Game Studies entry when I want to reconfirm my prejudices about the value of internet wisdom of crowds and community peer review thinking.

And yet I have been watching Noah Wardrip-Fruin's experiment with peer review with interest, and even chipping in. I have problems with some assumptions about peer review that are being discussed in the meta commentary, and hope to get around to expressing them, but the nobility of what he is attempting is clear, and I applaud it.

I wouldn't be keen for peer review in its current form, whatever its imperfections, to be replaced with such an alternative for my own work, mind.

I have a blog, but I will tell my students to distrust blogs.

I distribute my own work online, but I will ask them to be deeply distrusting of non-conventional distribution channels.

I have pseudonyms in various places where I hide my credentials so I can say things that are polemic and inflammatory without worrying about the comeback affecting what reputation I have. I enjoy many of the liberties of the internet.

And yet I will stress the need to connect knowledge to a material knowable being. I might even be frothing at the mouth and waving my arms like an old testament prophet by this point.

I may simply be a fossil already, at the very dawn of my forties. The offence I felt yesterday seeing pornographic images dropped (tagged? Stencilled?) onto the beautifully designed walls of Team Fortress 2's spaces was quite extreme. I wish to rend my clothes and wail against the collapse of civilisation that we endure in the face of the information slurry of the internet.

With any luck I will calm down enough to give them useful advice on how to navigate the internet and gather useful information.

Thursday, 7 February 2008


One of our PhD students was talking about games and narrative in a paper here last night, which took me back to my beginnings in game studies, especially as he was using Half-life as his example. And I have been answering interview questions by email from someone who reminded me of some things I had written back in those early days. So, while I was in reflective mood I wandered over to Grand Text Auto, where Noah Wardrip-Fruin is allowing his new book to be exposed in all its pre-published nakedness and saw him writing about Knights of the Old Republic. I just thought I'd post a link to an early paper I gave on KotOR back in 2003 in Utrecht. If nothing else it lets me connect a lot of the work I have subsequently published. And I still have a warm fuzzy feeling towards KotOR (and a less than warm or fuzzy feeling towards the git who knicked my copy of KotOR II).