Friday, October 11, 2013

Two talk descriptions at QGCon and Practice

Sorry that this blog's been suffering a bit as of late. I've been busy.

My teaching load is ramping up (which is good, having more day job is nice) and I've been devoting most of my free time toward working on games, transcribing Level With Me vol. 2 at Rock Paper Shotgun, and writing / researching for two talks I'm delivering -- one at QGCon, and the other at Practice.

Here are the two blurbs:

"Queering Game Development" @ QGCon, Oct 27 in Berkeley, California
Queer and feminist critiques of games often rely on high level conceptual approaches to games -- that is, analyzing games as cultural products or media objects. The hegemony's response is to go technical and go low-level, to argue that their game engine could not support playable women characters, or to argue production schedules allowed no time to support queer content, etc. Ignoring temporarily how those are bullsh*t reasons, what if we chased them into the matrix? Perhaps we could disclose the politics inherent in game engine architectures, rendering APIs, and technical know-how. If we learn about (and *practice*) actual game development, then we can articulate alternative accounts of game development at a low level, and achieve more comprehensive critiques of games.

"Well-Made: Back to Black Mesa" @ Practice, November 17 in New York City
The modern AAA single player first person shooter consists mainly of two things: shooting faces in implausibly realistic levels with a pistol, machine gun, shotgun, sniper rifle, or rocket launcher -- and obeying NPCs when they trap you inside a room so they can emit voice-over lines at you. Half-Life's legacy in the latter is well-mythologized in history, but what if we re-visit Half-Life as a masterpiece of technical design, enemy encounters, AI scripting, weapons tuning, and architecture? Spoiler: we'll find out it's a pretty well-crafted game.

(I imagine the "Well-Made" as a counterpart to the "Well-Played" or something.)