Monthly Archives: January 2009

An update

You might wondering where all the Subject Navigator posts have gone. To an extent, I am too. Unfortunately, it’s a matter of time, and free time, which I have none of at the moment – I’m in the middle of moving house and preparing for a big year. So I thought I’d update you all on some goings on to justify my absence.

First, I’m no longer working for PALGN. This was a tough decision, as I believe it’s a great website that has given me a number of opportunities. But it was time to move on.

Second, I’m working on two new websites, one videogame dedicated, and one cross media focussed. Both are going to be great, and hopefully allow me to really expand as a writer. I can’t deal out the URLs yet, but needless to say, if you are reading this, you’ll be the first to know when they go live.

Third, you can now access my thesis in a new way (other than clicking the link to your right – hint, hint). It’s now been uploaded and is available at Game Career Guide, a sister site of Gamasutra et al, here. Which, if nothing else, meant I went all squirmy inside as something I’d written was (is?) temporarily on the first page of Gamasutra, if way down the bottom! I hope this opens up a new audience of readers for it, and I get even better feedback than some of the amazingly insightful and thoughtful words I’ve received so far.

Anyway, Subject Navigator should return to normal programming shortly, when I’m not living in boxes and assembling beds. Thanks for your patience, and I hope you stick around for my future projects.

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Brothers in Arms, the strategic desensitizer

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There are few games that have struck me as wanting to be a film as Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway. Or rather, wanting to be a TV series. The first ten minutes of Hell’s Highway had me seriously tossing up asking its creators if they shouldn’t just have just applied to work on The Pacific instead. The cutscenes – in the beginning, interminably long – have perfected that Band of Brothers tone and feel, and even the musical theme appears to share the same first few intervals. Now, I like Band of Brothers. But I’d rather watch the real thing than play an imitator. My patience was wearing thin, however, I knew several people who swore by the series, so I stuck with it. And I’m glad I did: Brothers in Arms presents a compelling take on World War Two that I don’t think could be achieved in any other medium.

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Call of Duty 2 and the World War Two theme park

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There is definitely a place for theory and lofty concepts. A blog is one such place. However, I very much admire L.B. Jefferies’ sentiment when he suggests that there comes a point when theorising is useless without practical implementation: “Talk is cheap and in abundance on the internet, it’s actually doing something that’s in such short supply. If you want things to change, just act that change out yourself.”

In that spirit, then, I’ve decided to put my money where my mouth is, and instead of presenting Subject Navigator readers with another post on how one concept from one medium is like a different concept from another, I’d like to analyse a game or two. I want to look at some World War Two videogames, overpopulated as the genre may be, and think about what their gamespace says about their approach to the period. I’m starting today with Call of Duty 2, and I’ll be continuing later on in the week with Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway.

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How Guy Debord can help us understand videogames

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When researching my thesis, I looked at quite a few theories and theorists of space, place, and geography. Perhaps the most interesting discovery I made last year, however, was Guy Debord and the Lettrist International’s concept of psychogeography. Debord was a French Marxist who found influence in the ’60s, largely due to a fascinating book called Society of the Spectacle. He was also probably more than a little alcoholic, and ended up shooting himself in 1994.

So what can a dead continental philosopher tell us about videogames?

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Mapping the Brainysphere: 29 blogs switched-on gamers should read

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The year 2008 was nothing if not a great year for intelligent discussion of videogames. Every month, it seemed to me like a new blog would pop up with an amazingly insightful analysis of some new game, and I’d be forced to go through their backlogs for everything else they’d written. Underneath it all, there is a real community thriving here; one that talks to itself and many hundreds of silent readers out there in the great internet ether. So, I decided, as much for myself as for any visitors of this blog, that I’d try and map out the Brainysphere; those blogs which have discussed videogames in 2008 in a manner beyond the surface. I’ve tried as best as I could to include everyone I have read this year, and to not link directly to their blog but rather, to what is in my opinion their best post for 2008.

If you believe your blog, or someone else’s blog should be here but isn’t, please let me know in the comments. Any omissions are purely because I am not superhuman enough to keep up with the lightning pace of the Brainysphere, or I simply forgot.

Without further ado, and in purely randomised order, these are the first 29 blogs of the Brainysphere:

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