The Bethesda style of oral formulaic epic, part 1

May 22, 18 The Bethesda style of oral formulaic epic, part 1

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In a series of essays starting in 2004 and including a series of posts here on Play the Past, I’ve described player-performance in adventure games of various genres as examples of what Albert Lord, in The Singer of Tales, the seminal work on oral formulaic composition of homeric epic, calls thematic recomposition. Briefly put,...

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Play the ancient game

May 10, 16 Play the ancient game

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I’m glad to say that I have real hope of starting to contribute to PlaythePast again. I’m working on a book I’m excited about, though I have no idea whether it will ever actually emerge in any traditional “book” format. In any case, I’m going to start broaching the subject of the book, tentatively...

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Colonialism, Privilege, and Meaningful Play in Dog Eat Dog

Apr 24, 13 Colonialism, Privilege, and Meaningful Play in Dog Eat Dog

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Game designer Liam Liwanag Burke describes Dog Eat Dog as a “fun, compelling game about colonialism and assimilation in the Pacific Islands.” That’s right – Burke created a fun roleplaying game about the inequality inherent to colonialism and its consequences. One player acts as the Occupation (all of it...

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Epic Life: The Big Break of BioShock 3: Humanism of the Walkthrough, or, What happens when the prisoner doesn’t notice he’s been freed

Feb 13, 13 Epic Life: The Big Break of BioShock 3: Humanism of the Walkthrough, or, What happens when the prisoner doesn’t notice he’s been freed

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So is it still humanities if the player, invited to interrogate the méconnaissance that constitutes the epistemology of what s/he perceives as interactivity, says “Meh”? It seems hard to deny that the vast majority of players of BioShock have never thought about the Death-Disarm sequence as a critique of their...

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No More Chocolate-covered Broccoli: Collaboration between Game Designers and Historians is Key

Jan 23, 13 No More Chocolate-covered Broccoli: Collaboration between Game Designers and Historians is Key

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The following post is a short paper I wrote for a panel discussion on creating game experiences at Civil War historic sites. Our moderator suggested that we share our papers for further discussion and comment before the panel. Please join in the discussion, all comments and concerns are greatly appreciated! My postings on this site...

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