Female gamers wanted!

University of Glasgow staff & students only

If you currently play or have, in the past, played video games, I would like to conduct a short focus group session to discuss your gaming habits and to explore how games may have influenced other aspects of your life, particularly where learning is concerned.

Having run a similar session with an all male group, we are now looking for female volunteers to get their perspective. The session would last about an hour and proceedings would be recorded using an audio recorder, but you would be free to ask for any of your comments not to be used.

I can’t offer any reward for taking part, but there may be cake.

If you are interested in taking part, please drop me an email at Matthew.Barr@glasgow.ac.uk.

Video games are juvenile, silly, and intellectually lazy

This is the conclusion of respected games developer (and creator of indie favourite, Braid), Jonathan Blow, as revealed in this article in The Atlantic magazine. The article itself is interesting, featuring interviews with Blow himself – who has, in the past, been labelled somewhat pretentious (you can decide for yourself after reading the Atlantic piece) – and actually offers a more balanced take on the “video games as art” debate than the introductory blurb might suggest. The article also serves as a rather eloquent piece of promotional material for Blow’s upcoming exploration/puzzle game, The Witness

In response to the arguments put forth in the article, however, The Brainy Gamer has undertaken to produce a catalogue of “smart games”, comprising those titles that meet Blow’s own criteria for being artistic or intellectually sophisticated”. The catalogue is off to a great start (and looks as though it will provide some excellent ideas for my own work…), but is actively seeking user contributions. If you can think of a game that might meet the above requirements, head on over to the catalogue to submit it.

PhD is go

It’s on like Donkey Kong!*

I’m finally officially registered as a PhD student at HATII. I have a pair of excellent supervisors lined up, in the form of Dr Susan Stuart (more informative personal website here) and Dr Steve Draper (see here for much more information). Susan is a philosopher at HATII and Steve is based in Psychology. Both are likely to keep me on my toes, and bring a wealth of experience and wisdom from their many years of teaching and research. Better start doing some work now, then…

* This is a ridiculous phrase. Believed to have been coined by rapper Ice Cube in the early Nineties – more than a decade after Nintendo’s ill-tempered monkey started chucking barrels – it has since grown in popularity on the Internet (of course) and in ‘hip’ pop culture. It was recently used to promote the video game-influenced movie version of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and subsequently (and rather retrospectively) trademarked by Nintendo to drum up interest for Donkey Kong Country Returns on Wii, 30 years after they didn’t think of it in the first place.