Recent Comments

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.

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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.

Hannah Green

Really interesting post Amanda! I like that you noted the cultural shift that has taken place within televisual representations of young women. It seems that this shift can be recognized across a range of contemporary television, but when thinking about The Initiation of Sarah, it appears that magic and witchcraft contribute an additional layer to expressions of femininity. I think its great that you recognized the connection between the “glamour” of magic and the feminine identity of the characters. I would love to see how you might unpack this a bit more. I find the connection between magic and gender to be a compelling insight and it would be really interesting to see how you might further think about how this contemporary empowered femininity is impacted by the plot line of magic that is present throughout Sarah. How does magic, as an element of one’s identity, interact with one’s gender expression, especially expressions of femininity? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thanks again for you post.