Not Just A Game Episode 4: Political Games with David Stark

In this episode I talk political games with David Stark, an indie game developer who recently created Martian Immigration Nightmare. You may recall this game from my previous post asking for what games are out there that follow this political trend – in fact it’s the game that prompted my post!

We talk about politics, the response to politics from high profile tech people, political games, how games can help people understand political (and institutional) nightmares, and whether it’s okay for a game to depict punching Nazis.

Thanks so much to David for coming on (and his patience in my tardiness for uploading it!).

Games mentioned:

2017 Political Games

I’m making a list of political games that reflect and/or respond to the current political climate (Trump administration, Brexit, rise of the extreme right). Political games are not just games – they help us to understand different perspectives, and help game developers to express themselves in troubling political times. Please let me know if there is one missing by contacting me on twitter or leaving a reply below.

Games

Martian Immigration Nightmare by Zarkonnen

This game helps you to understand what it might be like to be one of the citizens restricted from travelling by the Executive Order Trump signed early into his presidency. Elon Musk, who wants to help the human race go to Mars, made various statements about how he wants to be involved at advising high levels of the Trump administration, so this is a “love letter” to him.

Easy Level Life by DE Team (this is from last year but is relevant)

Find out what it’s like to be a non-white person in America in this realistic short life simulation.

This is Fine by Nick Kaman

In which marshmallows are eaten with your friends and you put out fire with love.

Events and GameJams

The Goethe Institute is running a series of GameJams on political themes throughout 2017. 

According to the website, the first game jam took place at the end of November 2016 in Mexico City at the Centro de Cultura Digital; the second will be held at in early 2017 at the Nam June Paik Art Centre in Seoul. Further stations include Boston, Novosibirsk, São Paulo, Bandung and Yangon. So stay tuned!

Mental health benefits of Pokémon Go

Dr. Jessica Urwin and I are carrying out a study of Pokémon Go and its mental health benefits. We’re carrying out an ethnography in Leicester and conducting an online survey.

If you’re interested in participating, here’s the blurb for our questionnaire, which is found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PokemonMH

Please share this amongst your friends!

“Pokémon Go took the world by storm following its launch in summer 2016. As well as being a fun game to play there have been some reports of it encouraging exercise, social interaction, and improving the mental health of players. This study is looking at what mental health benefits players receive from Pokémon Go, and to understand how the format of the game itself contributes to this (if at all).

We are asking individuals who play Pokémon Go to complete the following online questionnaire. This will ask about your experiences of playing Pokémon Go, if you feel it has benefited you in any way, and what form those benefits have taken. As the research is related to mental health, the questionnaire will touch on this subject. However, you do not have to disclose any personal information that you do not feel comfortable sharing, and do not have to answer the questions if you do not wish to. All information which is collected during the course of the research will be kept on a password protected database and is strictly confidential. You will be given a pseudonym which will be used instead of your name. Any identifiable information you may give will be removed and anonymized, and all quoted materials will have all identifying information removed.”

Interlude – EMFCamp

I’ve been really busy recently – sorry about that. Here’s an intervening video from EMFCamp on morality in video games which I gave last weekend.

Next podcast will come at some point – I’ll be talking about No Man’s Sky and the ethics document I wrote for the No Man’s Sky Archaeological survey!

Not Just a Game Episode 3: Heroes

This week I talk about heroes, virtue ethics, and customisable vs. non-customisable characters.

Some links for further reading:

Anker, Elizabeth, (2005), Villains, Victims and Heroes: Melodrama, Media, and September 11. Journal of Communication, 55: 22–37. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.2005.tb02656.x

Hursthouse, Rosalind, “Virtue Ethics”, (2003), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)

Games mentioned:

  • Dragon Age series
  • The Witcher 3
  • Batman games
  • Lara Croft games
  • Skyrim
  • Planescape Torment
  • Pillars of Eternity

Not Just a Game Episode 2: Looting Mortuary Spaces with Meghan Dennis

This episode has been long in coming! In it Meghan Dennis from the University of York and I discuss mortuary spaces in games and some of the ethical and social issues with depiction of mortuary spaces and the interactions that can be had with them in games. This episode was recorded at “The Interactive Pasts” Conference, the very first archaeogaming conference in the world, held in Leiden, The Netherlands, hosted by the Value Project.

Games discussed include:

Not dead yet

I’m not dead yet! I’ve just had a terrible cold and then went to PAX East and then to some speaking engagements and have been unable to record anything. Sorry about that. I’ve got a great episode lined up for you when I’m back from the USA (next week) and I’ll be able to get it out then!

Thanks for your patience!

Not Just a Game Episode 1: Life is Strange and Social Norms

This is the first episode of my new podcast. Please be gentle, I am working with new equipment and a new style of media! But any technical feedback welcome (I think I’ve solved the crackling in the microphone now though!).

In this episode, I am talking about Life is Strange and social norms. What’s a social norm? Listen and find out!

Are there any games where you struggled with social norms vs. expectations of the gameplay? Comment below!

Games mentioned:

  • Life is Strange
  • Grand Theft Auto
  • Legend of Zelda series
  • Dragon Age series/Bioware games
  • Skyrim
  • Guild Wars 2
  • Final Fantasy series