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Riot’s League of Legends is a multiplayer game that consists of two teams. Each team seeks to destroy the other’s Nexus, a giant crystal near the back of the enemy base. What is interesting about this game is that, depending on the region, players subscribe to a particular meta. When a player deviates from that meta, it tends to incite other players, which often results in verbal punishment.

On North American servers, the meta tends to center on our capitalistic ideals: certain players come out as power players with everyone else supporting them. For example, those who fill the Attack Damage Carry (ADC) role usually end up carrying the fight because of the high amounts of attack damage they do. The longer the game goes on, the more effective they become until the Nexus is destroyed. These characters usually have the most kills, and other players are expected to help them get those kills to ensure that one player has the chance to optimize their equipment. In fact, other characters are expected to die to protect the ADC. An ADC usually plays at the bottom lane as opposed to the middle or top lanes. They are usually high damage dealers and are fairly “squishy” and need a support character. However, when a person takes a traditionally ADC character to a different lane where they are not necessarily as effective in this meta, other players tend to get frustrated or don’t understand why, often resorting to verbal harassment as a way to express their discontent with the broken meta.

The attitudes of these players, I think, is hauntingly representative of the normative American culture. The general populous expects its members to act and behave a certain way and to maintain a certain mindset.  It rejects any deviation from the “norm.” If a Marxist bent is added, it can be said that the ruling class is responsible for establishing these norms. Most often cited as the ruling class in American culture is the white male and his patriarchal iron fist. If you are not a white male, you are automatically disenfranchised as “deviant” from the norm. Other genders, races, and sexual preferences are seen as just that–“Other.” They are seen as a threat, which results in abuse whether verbally, physically, or politically. Such actions are certainly stunting to the development of the culture.

This is the same mindset that many players bring to League of Legends. Because they do not like other players “deviating” from the meta, they are practically stunting and discouraging experimentation and development of new metas that could have a lasting impact on the way the game is played. I find it really interesting that this normative mindset can be observed in the microcosm of the game. In fact, the League of Legends community is considered one of the worst because of the number of players who resort to verbal abuse and other unsportsmanlike behavior. To combat the notorious negativity of the League community, Riot created what they call The Tribunal System, which “empowers the League of Legends community to regulate the conduct that it considers appropriate and supports the tenets of the Summoner’s Code” (Tribunal FAQ). In other words, the players regulate the community. It will be interesting to see how normative attitudes might change in the game.

If the League community is considered one of the most negative gaming communities because of normative mindsets, what does that say about our society?

Just because I’m a geek–no geekery is complete without The Doctor.

I finally finally FINALLY graduated. I got so tired of being in school. But it’s not really the break I thought it would be, because now I’m trying to decide whether or not to go back for Ph.D. I think I’ll take the year and let that idea steep for awhile.

As I mentioned before, I was working on a really big project. One of the requirements for my degree program was to edit a paper previously written to be publication-worthy. Except I did mine over the summer and had to restart. Twice. It took forever to finally get on a track where I could weed out the information I didn’t need to include and just write. Apparently that was more difficult than I anticipated. But, I’m pretty proud of the final product. I felt all smart and stuff.

Anyway, I’m not going to put up the whole thing because I may use it later for something or other, but I wrote about the political discourses in Skyrim and incorporated some theoretical badassery from some of the articles and books I read over the summer. I explored what it meant to be a player in the specific type of game Skyrim is and how that reflects the different levels of immersion. I also looked at how players’ real world experiences could affect their decisions about how to respond to the different discourses presented in the game. Then I looked pretty hard at the historical references in the game and how players’ knowledge of them could affect their decisions. That led me to analyze the various narrative layers in the game and how players’ decisions create one of those layers. And finally, I observed how that particular layer looked throughout the Elder Scrolls series.

It was really tedious and really frustrating. I feel so sorry for my poor advisor who basically held my hand through the whole thing. But I learned a lot and I’m thankful for it. I just don’t want to do that again for a while. ha!

I was lately introduced to Charles Baudelaire (love his shock value!) and his ideas on modernity and what it means for individuals as culture changes and morphs. One of the ideas that has stuck with me is the idea of sensory overload. For Baudelaire in the nineteenth century, that meant having to learn what kinds of sounds and sights to ignore and what to pay attention to as he walked around Paris amid the new technologies that were popping up throughout the city. The same overload Baudelaire experienced still goes on today, particularly with videogames.

That point was reinforced for me when I read an article from Gonzalo Frasca’s baby,, JET SET RADIO – STILL TASTES GREAT AFTER ALL THESE YEARS” in which he pointed out how we get better at learning how to play videogames and how it takes less time to go from game to game and get comfortable with the controls. It made me aware of how my husband picks up games and just plays with very little difficulty. He makes everything look so easy, and he knows where to look to get goodies and bonuses and such, whereas I have a hard time doing that. However, now that I have more time to play, I’ve witnessed how learning gets easier after my own experiences of having to adapt to different games.

One of those games was Virtual-On: Oratorio Tangram. My husband recently pulled out his Dreamcast (which didn’t work, so we had to order a new one) so he could introduce me to a game from his golden years. In Virtual-On you control a robot (like in Gundam or Xenogears) and shoot at other robots in a fight to the death. The whole time I played it, I got really frustrated because the controls are difficult to get used to. For example, in order to lock the camera onto your opponent, you have to “dash” and fire weapons. Pressing the required buttons to execute said operations takes some really athletic bending of the carpels! Talk about awkward. And on top of that, there are so many colors and things going on that it makes you feel like you’re going to have an epileptic seizure. Once you get used to picking out the important things to pay attention to, it’s a really fun game.

After Virtual-On, I started playing Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption. I love the open-world RPGs (as you’ve probably noticed from my Elder Scrolls obsession blatantly and shamelessly plastered all over previous posts) because I get to explore and talk to people and do whatever I want whenever I want. Having never played their other franchise, Grand Theft Auto, I was like “Sweeeeeet. Skyrim except in the Wild West!” Aw hell no! That was a stupid expectation. After much yelling and cursing, I finally started getting used to the game’s controls and love playing it.

Baudelaire was onto something. Even in an era where people are used to the constant hubbub and technological presences in daily life, there are always new things to get used to, particularly in videogames. Each game requires players to learn different controls and get used to the sights and sounds of the game. Players have to learn what to ignore and what to look for in order to survive in the gameworld. And who knows, maybe those experiences with videogames can help when we have to adapt in reality, too.

Nelson Mandela

Posted: December 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

New Media and literacy was a topic that was discussed (in-depth) tonight in the Studies in Adult Literacy seminar I’m taking this semester, though we discussed a relatively limited scope of New Media such as videogames, social sites, and instant messaging.

I had to lead a discussion about an article of my choice that related to the subject, so I chose Gonzalo Frasca’s “Videogames of the Oppressed” in First Person. Frasca seems to be making the claim that videogames are not viable modes for social discourse, nor do they have the power to institute change in people. Of course, the article was written nearly ten years ago, but I think videogames are extremely effective at getting people to think about the current social and political atmosphere. And as far as literacy is concerned, they can help with problem-solving and critical thinking. And they can make us look at both our world and ourselves from a different perspective.

The same thing goes with social media. I would argue that sites like Twitter and Facebook are great platforms for getting students to interact with one another, which has the potential to help improve literacy, especially if the students know that a particular group has higher expectations of their writing skills. They can also be used as a form of more immediate contact with the teacher or other students. Students can post questions, ideas, and connections that have the potential to enhance their knowledge of the material being presented in classes. Plus, on a more practical note, many businesses are looking for employees that are familiar with all different types of social media and web design experience.

Sadly, many educators and schools don’t really see the need for New Media in the classroom; in fact, some schools will fire educators who use them for class. I think that’s really sad because they have such potential! They aren’t without their cons, but if you think about it, as one of my classmates put it, it’s kind of the same as when the printing press came out in the sixteenth century.

What do you think about New Media and their potential as educational tools?

GTA5: Kitsch is a Funny Thing

Posted: October 27, 2013 in Academic, games, gaming

GTA5: Kitsch is a Funny Thing.


Very cool article.

New Project

Posted: October 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

So I’m working on something really big right now. It’s Skyrim again. Sorry guys. So what happened was that I was supposed to be writing a paper about the game, but ended up having to trash it. Twice. And I hated seeing all that work go to nothing. So that led to the three installments in earlier posts. Now, I finally have a cohesive idea and am working on completing the project. There are admittedly some kinks I need to work out in the argument, but it will get me good and graduated. I’ll share when it’s finished–a celebratory post, if you will, of the success of the seven years I have spent in college.

Emergent Narratives in Untitled

Here’s a brief summary of the article:

In this Elder-Scrolls-esque game that is currently gathering funding, player reactions to the environment will be chronicled in a journal and will operate more like more text-based forms of ergodic literature, namely, the “choose your own adventure.”

I think this will inspire some interesting discussion about how narrative operates in games, particularly because they focus on emergent narratives. Plus, as the player engages with their environment and situates themselves within the discourses of the game,  certain paths will be open to the player when they make a choice, while others will be closed off as a result of that choice, presumably making the game extremely replayable. This seems to be one of the major marketing points for Untitled. Needless to say, I hope this game is able to be released. They’ve got me hooked because a) it’s open world and b) I am curious to see how the atmosphere of the game is affected by player choice.

I’m such a sucker.