February 11, 2004

Form, Culture and Video Game Criticism

by Michael Mateas · , 10:34 am

The speaker schedule for Form, Culture, & Video Game Criticism, a one day conference being held at Princeton on March 6th, has been announced. Looks like a good lineup, and includes our own Nick Montfort as well as frequent GTxA commentor Dennis Jerz. I couldn’t find a website with the conference schedule, so I include the full program below.

A conference sponsored by the English Department of Princeton University
Saturday, March 6th, 2004

All sessions to be held in 28 McCosh Hall, Princeton University


Opening / 9:30 a.m.

Session 1: Contexts / 9:45-11:00 a.m.
Nick Montfort / Combat in context
Jordan Hall / 540+ polygons and the men who love them
Laurie Taylor / A ludic model? Smooth and striated space and Sid Meier’s “Civilization” games

Session 2: Limits / 11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Dennis Jerz / You are standing at the beginning of a road: examining Will Crowther’s “Advent” (c.1976)
Christy Wampole / Electronic games as a constrained medium
Robert Bowen / Musical by-products of Atari 2600 games

Lunch / 12:30-1:30 p.m.

Reconvening / 1:30 p.m.

Session 3: Cultures / 1:45-3:00 p.m.
David Thomas / Video game vocabulary: a lexicon of experiential anchors
Peter Bell / Hidden play and the identities of mobile video gaming
Greg Lastowka / Virtual crimes

Session 4: Reading Games / 3:15-4:30 p.m.
Tevis Thompson / But our princess is in another castle: towards a ‘close-playing’ of “Super Mario Bros.”
James Graham / The resurgence of the realist art form within the new Cartesian theatre: present and future directions
Eric Hayot and Edward Wesp / More on race and style in ergodic literature

Session 5: Game Studies / 4:45-5:45 p.m.
Eric Hayot and Edward Wesp / Re-presenting simulation
Barry Atkins / ‘Can I please reload from last save game?’: Getting it wrong (and right) in a nascent discipline

Barry Atkins is Principal Lecturer in the Department of English, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. With an academic background in American modernist literature, he is author of More than a game: The computer game as fictional form (Manchester and NY: Manchester University Press, 2003) and a number of forthcoming articles and book chapters on videogames and film, “Civilization” and historiography, and the specificities of textual pleasure in videogames. He is currently working on his next monograph, Original Sim: Reading the computer-generated image (MUP, 2005).

Peter Bell is a master’s candidate in the Communication, Culture & Technology program at Georgetown University, and a research associate at the Pew Internet & American Life Project. His work on video games includes published and unpublished essays on realism and technological advancement in first-person shooters, and on the formation of “game studies” as a disciplinary field. His forthcoming thesis examines how the theme of mastery positions so-called “hardcore” gamers (and allows them to position themselves) in relation to individual games as well as the “culture industry” of video gaming.

Robert Bowen is a composer and Instructor in the Department of Music Theory and Composition at West Chester University. He received a Ph.D. in Music Composition from Princeton University in 2001, where he studied acoustic and electronic composition with Steven Mackey, Paul Lansky and Paul Koonce. He is a recipient of an ASCAP Foundation Grant, a Morton Gould Young Composer Award and honors from the Latin American Music Center of Indiana University.

James Graham is an Assistant Professor with the New Media Department of the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. He holds a Masters Degree in Fine Art from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, (1990 – Sculpture/Installation), and a post-graduate diploma in computer animation and special effects from the Algonquin Centre for New Media (1999). James has exhibited professionally for the last 18 years, held several director/curatorial positions in public art galleries, and has written reviews for publication in art journals such as Canadian Art, C, Parachute, and exhibition catalogue essays including the Baltic Sea Biennale. He co-founded the Victoria School of Contemporary Art, and has taught visual art and new media in Canada and Iceland.

Jordan Hall is currently pursuing her M.A. in Film and Video Studies at York University, where her research interests include intersections of media, particularly film and theatre, and the adoption of filmic language in video games and online art objects. A graduate of McMaster University’s Combined Drama and Multimedia Programme, Jordan’s practical works have included design for Virtual Toronto (CD-ROM), supported by the Culture of Cities Project, and multimedia installations for theatrical productions. Her current research is focused on the operations of cinematic language in the medium of video games, specifically Core Design’s “Tomb Raider,” and other action games with female protagonists.

Eric Hayot is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Arizona. He is the author of Chinese Dreams: Pound, Brecht, Tel quel (2003) and essays on modern and contemporary poetry. Two essays on games, written in collaboration with Ted Wesp, are forthcoming in Postmodern Culture and Comparative Literature Studies.

Dennis Jerz is Associate Professor of English – New Media Journalism at Seton Hill University.

Greg Lastowka is currently an associate in the intellectual property litigation group at Dechert LLP in Philadelphia. He is a graduate of Yale University (B.A. English, summa cum laude, 1991) and the University of Virginia (J.D. 2000). He will be starting his academic career as an associate professor of law in fall 2004. He writes and speaks frequently on the various legal issues raised by contemporary online games.

Nick Montfort, a Ph.D. student in computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania, has masters degrees from Boston University (in creative writing, poetry) and from MIT (in media arts and sciences). He is author of Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction (MIT Press, 2003) and co-editor of The New Media
Reader (MIT Press, 2003).

Laurie Taylor researches video games and digital culture as a Ph.D. student at the University of Florida. She is primarily researching interface issues and survival horror games. She holds an M.A. in English with a master’s thesis on perspective in video games. She has an article in Vol 3:2 of Game Studies and she writes about video
Games and digital media for the radio program “Recess!”

David Thomas has covered arts, entertainment and popular music as a newspaper critic for 12 years. For the past 6 years he has written about video games for the Denver Post. He currently teaches critical video game theory and the history of digital media for the University of Colorado, Denver and maintains the critical game theory site www.buzzcut.com. His current research area deals with the creation and articulation of a vocabulary of critical terms specific to the discourse of video game aesthetics.

Tevis Thompson studied literature and film at the University of Chicago (B.A. 1999 – Interdisciplinary Study in the Humanities) and classical philosophy and literature of India, China, and Japan at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico (M.A. 2003 – Eastern Classics). Thompson is originally from Kentucky and is currently in the first year of a Ph.D. in English at the University of Iowa.

Christy Wampole is a student of French literature and Italian in the Doctor of Modern Languages Program at Middlebury College in Vermont. Her particular areas of interest include 20th and 21st century avant-garde literature, critical approaches to visual culture, translation studies, and the role of technology in literary production and criticism. She currently teaches French at the University of North Texas.

Edward Wesp is an Associate Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


Roger Bellin is a Ph.D. student in the English Department at Princeton. He has a B.A. in computer science and has worked on A.I. and educational simulation software.

Dexter Palmer holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University in English literature. His dissertation examines the narrative structures of encyclopedic novels by James Joyce, William Gaddis, and Thomas Pynchon. He is currently engaged in research in the fields of modernist literature and new media.

7 Responses to “Form, Culture and Video Game Criticism”

  1. Robert Vervloet Says:

    I would love to find a publishing forum for my research in video games. I spent three years working with DARPA studying video games from 1980-1983.

    I studied the effects of video games on children, what skills the games teach, what skills the children learn, and how to adapt that information into simulation programs for military vehicles.

    In 1985 I was approved to teach the first video game class for police officers in Portland, Oregon

    Robert Vervloet

  2. CMS Blog Says:
    Video game conference @ Princeton.
    Hey so there’s a conference at Princeton on 3/6/04: Form, Culture and Video Game Criticism. The lineup of speakers is unknown to me, but the topics are interesting. And New Jersey isn’t prohibitively far away (we could leave at 6am…

  3. miscellany is the largest category Says:
    Leap Links
    Magic Words: Interactive Fiction in the 21st Century, an article on IF on 1up [see also Jerz, GTA, Slashdot]. 2003 Xyzzy Awards NYTimes Deconstructing the Video Game (reg. required), which mentions the Form, Culture and Video Game Criticism conference …

  4. ENGL 668k: Digital Studies (Spring 2004) Says:
    Cybertext Studies in NY Times and at Princeton
    “The Ivy-Covered Console”, NY Times, Feb. 26, 2004–on academic game studies. See also this upcoming Princeton conference on Video Game Criticism.

  5. ENGL 467: Computer and Text (Spring 2004) Says:
    Cybertext Studies in NY Times and at Princeton
    “The Ivy-Covered Console”, NY Times, Feb. 26, 2004–on academic game studies. See also this upcoming Princeton conference on Video Game Criticism.

  6. Caged Ether » Blog Archive » Computer generated writing Says:

    […] rs does the same. Read more The academic/avant-garde have picked up on the idea. Check out Grand Text Auto So, is this a new paradigm in outsourcing? Let […]

  7. Form, Culture, & Video Game Criticism « Jason’s blog - ITP Core 1 Says:

    […] years old, in fact – but interesting conference in the Princeton English (I think) Dept. titled “Form, Culture, & Video Game Criticism.” I’m sure there’s a ton that have been more recent and equally interesting since then. […]

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