Comic Lynda Barry has an open course, complete with an illustrated syllabus that is very cool.
You get to the syllabus by scrolling down Barry’s site.
There’s an article about it in Open Culture.
Here’s my start on a list of more games and related things to explore, for those who are interested. As I noted, I asked a group of colleagues for feminist-oriented games, and this is the wonderful array of suggestions that resulted, slightly augmented by things that have come up as I’ve been exploring them. Descriptions are by people who recommended the games or from the site itself or by me, as indicated. Feel free to add to the list either by modifying it directly (for members of the class) or adding suggestions in comments.
Analogue: A Hate Story. See the trailer on the site.
Choice: Texas. “an educational interactive fiction game addressing reproductive healthcare access in the state of Texas.” (site) Free.
Cibele (Nina Freeman) See also http://boingboing.net/2015/11/11/cibele-and-the-end-of-an-era-f.html
Gone Home: “an interactive exploration simulator. ” “about Riot Grrrl and references zines, punk music and queer coming out, so it foregrounds the connections between games and other alternative modes of cultural production that have been taken up by feminists.” (recommender) About 2 hours. Trailer on site.
Dear Esther. 2012. See trailer on site. Painterly canvas, aesthetically ambitious. Described as both a game and as interactive storytelling by reviewers.
Dys4ia (Anna Anthropy). “A journal game about the six months of my life when I made the decision to begin hormone replacement therapy.”(site) Mac or Windows. See her rebuttal to the notion that it is an “empathy game” here and her sequel game ohmygod are you alright?
DepressionQuest (Zoe Quinn). “Depression Quest is an interactive fiction game where you play as someone living with depression.” (site) Pay what you can. Prompted the GamerGate controversy. Trailer here.
Luxuria Superbia (Tale of Tales). Multiple platforms.”A simple game of touch, pleasure and joy.” (site) Haptic–for touch screens or controllers (SB).
Freshman Year (Nina Freeman). “Freshman Year is a vignette game about an ordinary night in the life a college freshman named Nina.” (site) Free.
Papers Please: an immigration office simulator set in a vaguely soviet dystopia (recommender). iOS, PC, Mac, Linus. Trailer on site.
Rise of the Videogame Zinesters (Anna Anthropy)
Sunset (Tale of Tales): The protagonist woman of colour who has ended up, despite being an engineer, working as maid in the residence of a leader in oppressive Latin American regime starts to discover interesting things. (SB) See trailer on site.
Anna Anthropy: http://auntiepixelante.com/
Nine Freeman: http://ninasays.so/games/
Robert Yang: totally delightful (if also very sexually explicit) (recommender): http://debacle.us/
Games for Change: http://www.gamesforchange.org/
Serious games: http://valuesatplay.org/play-games
Merritt Kopas, Forest Ambassador: “a videogames site for anyone who is excited or even simply curious about the possibilities of digital play, but feels excluded, intimidated, or put off by videogames culture.” (site)
Anthropy, Anna. Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form. 2012. Book.”Part critical essay, part manifesto, part DIY guide….” (Amazon site)
Flanagan, Mary. Critical Play: Radical Game Design. Book. See also the TED talk here: http://maryflanagan.com/tedxdartmouth-mary-flanagan-critical-play/
Kopas, Merrit. “Trans Women & The New Hypertext.” 2014. Blog post. Re: Twine games; Anna Anthropy.
I came home after class and saw that my mom purchased a new cookbook and I thought it was pretty relevant to our discussion of Lara’s project. Now, my mom uses Pinterest and other sites to look up new recipes, but she still decided to purchase this cookbook today. I was wondering if it is a generational thing? Old habits die hard, as they say. Do you think the physicality of the cookbook bears some weight to a gravitation towards the cookbook versus a digital medium?
So… those were weird.
I played Lim first and found it really straight forward. Because of the nature of our course, however, I was asking myself “why is this relevant?” It wasn’t until I read the synopsis of the game that I was able to understand it as a form of digital writing. I had that moment of “oh! that’s clever!” but I think it’s significant that it didn’t happen until I’d read the information provided. If I had just been asked to play the game I would never have come up (unless it was an exam and I was whipping out those epic “I can make up significance at any time” English Major skills) with “it’s a representation of being other and isolated as seen in our exclusion of different races in society.” Is it successful, then? Sort of. As I played the game I thought the word “blend” was really interesting as it was my only tool – it’s kind of sad. I understood that I was having to camouflage the succeed, which I can understand. But I feel that this sort of digital writing is really imprecise.
Next I played Tampon Run. It was adorable! And It was created out of the Girls Who Code movement, which is awesome. Go ladies! (I just realized that our class is majority female – is that because it’s an English credit and not a computer science one?) I thought this game was far more effective in working as a form of digital “writing” because of the intro cards – it played out what it was aiming to achieve. Afterwards I didn’t play the game for as long, though, because I felt like I knew what it was trying to achieve, the game was cute but not riveting, so I stopped. In Lim I played for longer trying to figure out what the “message” was. I think it’s a fine line, especially in video games, to explain their purpose and to intertwine that with gameplay.
Over the weekend I attended a literary conference in New York City (I’m sure you all missed me terribly <3). I had a few hours to myself and decided to spend them at MoMA. Visiting art museums is always a good idea, but there was an exhibition in particular that made me hop up in excitement, that I wanted to share with our crew.
They had an area on video games! Which I think is super important, fascinating, and relevant to our studies. We’ve done a lot of talking about e-lit being gimmicky, and almost un-categorizable, and so the inclusion of video games in MoMA is, at least I think so, a big step forward for e-lit to be taken more seriously.
What was most interesting is that unlike a lot of the art that was extremely DO NOT TOUCH THIS FOR THE LOVE OF THE SUNS AND MOONS STAY AWAY, these games were asking to be played and explored and interacted with!
Here are some photos I took:
I’ve been thinking a lot about why I haven’t (and maybe why the world hasn’t) taken interactive literature (like the ones we’ve been discussing) very seriously. As a super important preface, I don’t mean that they aren’t important or that they aren’t taken seriously by certain circles, but instead why they haven’t become very popular, why they aren’t taught in schools (like Susan pointed out, none of us have ever come in contact with these things as texts and we’re English Majors living in 2015!), etc.
One of my conclusions is that they don’t have the physicality of books. Now an argument against this (and a very strong argument, at that) is that we’ve learned to love lots of things that aren’t physical – films, video games, for example. But ultimately, those are things you can own – you can buy a film, you can buy a video game. When something is stuck on a screen that you can’t conceptualize as an object, maybe that has made it unable to compete, especially (and this is why I think it’s different to films or video games) because it IS competing against physical books.
This is just a watery idea I’ve been thinking about, and I am open to absolute disagreement. This is also just one of the reasons I think these types of literatures haven’t been more widely accepted, so it’s not “THE reason.” What do you think – does the lack of physicality have anything to do with it?