Call for Presenters 2015-16

  • Posted on: 16 September 2015
  • By: dcollins

The Sadleir House Centre for Pixel Culture is dedicated to the preservation, collection, study, and appreciation of video games and related ephemera as important cultural texts. Through talks, seminars, and curated play exhibitions, the Centre for Pixel Culture encourages interaction with these pixel texts and promotes recognition of the video game medium.

The Centre for Pixel Culture invites proposals from undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and independent scholars to present a Critical Play Seminar during the 2015-16 academic year.

Save/Reload: Videogames and the Ethics of the Eternal Return

  • Posted on: 23 February 2015
  • By: dcollins
Save/Reload: Videogames and the Ethics of the Eternal Return
Liam Mitchell, Assistant Professor, Trent University
Date: 5 March 2015, 7:00pm
Sadleir House, 751 George St. N., Peterborough, ON

Abstract:
Videogames tend to be power fantasies: they give the player the chance to learn and master an algorithm, exerting more and more perfect control. As power fantasies, videogames symptomatize a societal inclination towards control, calculability, and digitality, and a fear of their constitutive opposites. Many videogames, then, index a problematically limited ethical and political disposition towards others. Acclaimed indie game Bastion initially seems to fit this mould: for the majority of the game, the player learns its systems and masters its controls, travelling Caelondia and collecting items that are supposed to set the post-apocalyptic world aright. At the end, too, the player seems to have the power of choice: they may “Restore” or “Evacuate,” returning to a pre-apocalyptic moment or accepting the end of the world and moving on. Through a gentle but ineluctable feature of the game’s design, however, Bastion imposes Evacuation on the player. It thereby advances an argument about the nature of life in control-obsessed society and a claim about the ethical and political disposition that might be equal to this technological epoch, and it does so through the ludic medium of the game: Bastion invites the player to experience a choice on Nietzsche’s eternal return. While the decision to will that any moment happen again and again would seem at first to be the decision to Restore, the game’s very structure argues that the save/reload mechanic at the heart of videogames exemplifies the failure to meet the challenge of the eternal return. Repeating the same means avoiding the movement of time. Evacuation, on the other hand, embraces an uncertain and finite future.

Featured Game:
Bastion

Mario Kart - Character Branding Continued

  • Posted on: 29 January 2015
  • By: dcollins

Mario Kart - Character Branding Continued

Date: February 5th, 2015

https://www.facebook.com/events/821677571238605/

Last month we played Super Smash Brothers in an attempt to look at the intersection of game & character branding. The trend continues this month as we bring you a night of Mario Kart! What is the appeal of putting your favourite Nintendo branded characters behind the wheel? Is it just another racing game, or something more? Do we bring Mario & Bowser's baggage along for the ride? Let's throw some red shells at the idea and see what we discover as we race around the track.

Featured Games:
Super Mario Kart (SNES), Mario Kart 64 (N64), Mario Kart Wii (Wii)

"Super Smash Bros.: Or, What Are We Fighting For?"

  • Posted on: 8 January 2015
  • By: dcollins

"Super Smash Bros.: Or, What Are We Fighting For?"

Date: 15 January 2015:

James "Mario, I Guess" Kerr & Pat "Falco Forever" Reddick

ABSTRACT: Dateline, 1999 - Nintendo is releasing games for the Nintendo 64 without care or concern, without marketing or warning, trying to compete as fast as they can with Sony's releases for the Playstation. From this haste and potentially accidental brilliance is born "Super Smash Brothers" - a fighting game (or is it?) of Nintendo brand characters, where you can spend hours learning the intricacies of hit boxes and your 10-year-old sister beats you up with Pikachu just by pressing B repeatedly. Is it bland? Is it brilliant? Find out for yourself. Tournament follows talk.

Game List: Featured Games: Super Smash Bros. (N64), Super Smash Bros. Melee (Gamecube), Super Smash Bros Brawl (Wii), Super Smash Bros. 3DS (3DS)

https://www.facebook.com/events/650830815022565/

Pixel In a Half-Shell: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and early Cross-Platform Media in Video Games

  • Posted on: 4 December 2014
  • By: dcollins

11 December 2014:

Pixel In a Half-Shell: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and early Cross-Platform Media in Video Games

James Kerr, Co-Director, Sadleir House Centre for Pixel Culture & Arcade Champ

https://www.facebook.com/events/567377393394889/

ABSTRACT: The quality of the video game didn't matter - if it was based on a toy, comic book or cartoon show then it would sell. However, in some cases, despite the odds, the game was great. Explore the relationship video games have with other media, the back-and-forth of video games and cartoon programmes, and the relationship video games have with greater media both yesterday and today. As a centre to the argument this analysis will mostly concern the bizarre success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle franchise in video game history, with a full range of Ninja Turtles games available for play. Cowabunga!

Featured Games: TMNT (Arcade), TMNT (NES), TMNT: The Arcade Game (NES), TMNT: Turtles in Time (SNES), TMNT: Tournament Fighters (SNES), TMNT: Fall of the Foot Clan (Gameboy), and mention of some non-turtles titles such as Batman Returns (Sega Genesis), E. T. / , The Extra-Terrestrial (Atari), and The Lego Series (Multiple Platforms)

Beercade! Happy Birthday Nintendo + Info Session

  • Posted on: 27 September 2014
  • By: dcollins

Join us 2 October 2014, 8pm, at Sadleir House for our first event of the 2014-15 academic year as we celebrate the 125th birthday of Nintendo!

We'll have our Nintendo systems out and ready to play all night long. We'll also be able to answer any questions you may have about the Centre for Pixel Culture, our Critical Play Seminars, our Research Collections & more!

Further info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1492204477715179/

Critical Play Seminars 2013-14

  • Posted on: 1 November 2013
  • By: dcollins

The Sadleir House Centre for Pixel Culture is dedicated to the preservation, collection, study, and appreciation of video games and related ephemera as important cultural texts. Through talks, seminars, and curated play exhibitions, the Centre for Pixel Culture encourages interaction with these pixel texts and promotes recognition of the video game medium.

 

7 November 2013:

Beat 'em Up: Brawling on Renegade Pixel Streets for the Final Fight!

James Kerr, Co-Director, Sadleir House Centre for Pixel Culture & Arcade Champ

ABSTRACT: The most popular genre of video game in the late eighties until it was killed swiftly in 1991 by a street fighter, Beat 'em Ups ruled the arcades and home consoles with brutal action! Though nearly as mass-produced as the Atari library, there are many Beat 'em Ups work revisiting. Explore the history and development of the genre, it's victories and game overs, and come to appreciate a computer-rendered version of what constituted "tough" in the late 80s - headbands and denim jackets with no sleeves.

Game List: Game List: Kung fu (1984, Irem), Renegade (1986, Taito), Double Dragon (1987, Tenchos Japan), Riven City Ransom (1989, Tenchos Japan), Final Fight (1989, Capcom), Golden Axe (1989, Sega), Streets of Rage 2 (1992, Sega), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time (1992, Konami)

 

5 December 2013:

Gender Roles in Videogames

Zara Syed, Trent University, (Cultural Studies Undergraduate Programme)

ABSTRACT: This seminar presentation will explore aspects of various gender representations in videogames. Innovative games such as Heavy Rain have received high gaming reviews and critiques. Encountering a critique of the controversial female character in this game, however, is scarce in comparison to the hype surrounding this game. The argument lying in female representations in these fields, how they are represented and if it is a safe space for them are questions being proposed in Anita Sarkeesian’s work. The seminar discussion will focus on the role genders play out in this formerly

Game List: Heavy Rain, Alice The Madness Returns, Mass Effect 3, Fable 2.

 

9 January 2014:

Playing in Circles: Repetition and Narrative in Videogames.

Dwayne M. Collins, MISt., Co-Director, Sadleir House Centre for Pixel Culture

ABSTRACT: Often cited as presenting the audience with an ‘illusion of choice’ over their narratives due to their interactive nature, many video games provide a concrete storyline that is interspersed with moments of repetitive activity as players complete levels, quests, or complete various similar tasks. Using the style of the Final Fantasy series of games as an example, this paper posits that, when it comes to the narrative of the game, these choices may be less illusory than they may at first appear. Drawing inspiration from recent work by Mary Douglas on ring cycles and repetition in oral poetry, this paper investigates moments of repetitive interactivity and choice as potential sites where the audience is welcomed and encouraged to impose their own narrative structure on top of that of the authors. These sites result in the video game emerging as a form of narrative expression where traditional oral and literate techniques are blended together to present a story in a new way.

Game List: Final Fantasy series

 

6 February 2014:

Pokémon & Spiritual Animism: Eastern Spiritualism through Video Games

James Kerr, Co-Director, Sadleir House Centre for Pixel Culture & Arcade Champ

ABSTRACT: The kami of your toaster has animated on it's 100th birthday and is determined to attack your salad with electric power. Except, the electric bolt is only half as effective against the salad's leafy green defence! Where is all this coming from? Religion! Come and learn just a little about the spiritual underpinnings of many of your favourite video games, the most prominent of which is the Pokemon series, and their connection to totemic animism, Shintoism, and Japanese folklore.

Game List: Art of Fighting (1992, SNK), Pokemon (1996-onward, Nintendo), Okami (2006, Capcom), Dead or Alive 2 (1999, Tecmo)

 

6 March 2014:

Literary Genre & MMORPGs

Sezen Turkmen, Trent University, (Theory, Culture, and Politics MA)

ABSTRACT: This seminar is focusing on the physical and aesthetical similarities and differences between the fantasy genre as a literary genre and Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games with their use of the fantasy genre in creating the 'worldness' aspect. Comparing some of the distinctive elements of fantasy literature and the MMORPG game 'Lineage 2' from which I drew my examples, I am trying to pinpoint at the commonalities and dissimilarities in the fantasy reader's and the MMORPG player's experiences.

Game List: Lineage 2

 

3 April 2014:

TBA

Contact us with a short abstract if you are interested in presenting a Critical Seminar on this date!

 

All Seminars @ 7:00pm

Sadleir House Lecture Hall, 751 George St. N.

 

Find out more online:

http://www.sadleirhouse.ca/pixels.shtml

http://www.facebook.com/CentreForPixelCulture

http://www.facebook.com/CentreForPixelCulture/events

 

 

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