October 3, 2006

Grand Theft Index

by Nick Montfort · , 3:35 pm

The meatblog Harper’s Magazine had a great roundtable last month entitled “Grand Theft Education” (Grand Title Auto!) and featuring Steven Johnson and Raph Koster as representatives of everything-fun-is-good-for-you cyberspace. The conversation was great, and Johnson and Koster both made a good case for games, of the sort one wouldn’t have seen – even in progressive serials such as this one – a decade ago. My favorite part was Jane Avrich’s description of dressing up like a Puritan schoolteacher, requiring her students to call her “Mistress Jane,” and providing disobedient students with “public humiliation.” Which does make blowing away zombies seem totally normal.

Unfortunately, not only is the piece not online – my snail arrived very late with the September Harper’s. I’m so late mentioning this that you can’t even rush to grab this issue from newsstands, as you no doubt readily would do at my merest gesture. Here’s a post with some snippets from the forum, though. And, I’ll link to something from Harper’s that is online: “First-Person Shooters,” excerpts from more than 900 pages of documents seized at the Columbine High School killers’ homes.