Recent Comments

Eric Hahn

Great post, this is really fascinating! I’m always a bit hesitant to fully embrace the marketing of “slowness” as a counter to “speed-up” culture particularly because I would argue that both terms create a false sense of an embedded and ubiquitous social time that, to me, seems a bit problematic. I think what really interests me here is the possibility of reading this mediated “slow time” as a sort of biopolitical mechanism, essentially a virtual slow vacation that still allows one to stay firmly positioned within his or her particular economically and politically determined temporal space. I can imagine someone working a 12-hour shift, coming home and watching this as a nice refresher to boost his or her spirits for the next grueling shift! Not to mention the massive labor infrastructure that must be undergirding this whole production. How many production technicians and vehicle operators were pulling all-nighters (I might be getting a bit carried away here) to allow for a select audience, who have “expendable” time, to engage in this slow power tourism? Sorry if this comes off as rambling, it’s been a long day ;) Really wonderful post!

Eric Hahn

Really cool argument, I appreciate it a lot. The “dragging formal time” that you argue for is, I think, also present in the Paranormal Activity movies, where there is a similar dread of durée. Because so little happens, we project fear into the empty frame.

Interestingly, in connection to your argument about being cut off from future potentiality, the many sequels to Paranormal Activity are mostly prequels, thus going further into the past, rather than develop “more future.”

Also, although not presented through derelict buildings and urban blight, the PA movies also confront economic decay and collapse. So, despite these movies being very different from each other (It Follows and Paranormal Activity), it seems to me that there is both a formal and thematic overlap.

Andrew Kemp

Very interesting piece. Sports seem to both embrace and argue against the primacy of statistics and numbers, with the opposite position being “you have to play the game.” Numbers are being used to turn athletes into tradeable and salable commodities, and perhaps not coincidentally, this rose to prominence in front offices (at least in baseball) around the time that player free agency, and particularly salary arbitration, became more common. Numbers give people a way to point to the math, as if it can’t lie. But who builds the metrics?

This also reminds me of a conversation I heard the other day. I’ve been looking at wrestling video games, and I found an interview where Bret Hart, a long-retired pro wrestler, was complaining that Triple H had a much higher set of logistical numbers in a recent wrestling game release. Hart couldn’t believe he had been judged lower than Triple H—“he can’t lace my boots.” Nobody brought up, of course, that he was complaining about a fake set of numbers for a staged performance sport.

Atari RealSports logo
Andrew Kemp

This fascinates me as well, particularly in complex sports where realism is in direct competition with intuitive playability. I remember playing some of these older baseball games, and being wowed at the then-stunning graphics of, say, “One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird,” which was remarkable for its time. Would it fair to say that sports games were an early driver of video game realism? I can’t think of another genre that was so interested so quickly in getting it “correct.”

Andrew Kemp

I’m curious about this notion of “monuments,” which sort of suggests a kind of stasis or preservation of the past athlete, which is certainly part of the appeal and also a bit uncanny. But I’m wondering about games that integrate these classic players in with the modern day equivalents, especially as most games use canned animations for particular situations. For example, is there a game where Ted Williams is playable, but when he hits a towering home run, he’s puppeted by a cocky, bat-flipping animation that he never would have performed in his time. Or, on the other side, what does it mean to include Ty Cobb in your baseball game and not pair him with the kinds of animations that depict his dirty play?

Andrew Kemp

It seems as if embracing the Tiny Titan, especially after it was found to be popular with fans, is an interesting example of how fan cultivation and audience retention methods have shifted. Surely the preferred method for the studio would be to ignore the mistake, or try to pretend it never happened, but that’s a losing strategy in the era of ubiquitous fan conversation in subreddits and so forth. It’s a comical goof, but it speaks to a larger industry strategy of allowing off-brand “warts” to become part of their ongoing relationship with their consumers. IE, sometimes the fans dictate what’s “in-brand” now, and the companies have to make the smart play and go with it.

Stefan Hall

Trying to arrest a moment in a digital medium essentially amounts to a snapshot, quite a different beast from a physical monument. Plenty of sports monuments, particularly statues of players, have been created, but this makes me thinks of game development studios (such as Epic Games or 343 Studios) that have life-size (or sometimes larger) statues of their video game characters in their foyers.

Stefan Hall

What I find interesting about this piece is that these stats are extrapolated (or sometimes directly copied) from a variety of sources/metrics, and really under the hood of the game is the code and its use of these figures, but that the actual humans that produce these stats are unaware (albeit sometimes close) of their own performance. (Methinks that there is probably plenty of psychological research in how people habitually overestimate their abilities.) Perhaps being reduced to a series of algorithms is disturbing, but it underscores fundamental derivations of the rules of football as a game.

Ryan Rogers

I find it fascinating how entangled reality and simulation have become with Madden and the NFL. I also think you have touched on an important idea here: while many games have notions of masculinity and character value, this is placing a number on it.

Bartosz Wieremiej

…and probably makes baseball a bit overwhelming for everyone else. Amount of data; all the stories, numbers – well, everything.

I am still trying to figure out, how to play baseball managers (OOTP etc). It is not going well.