Category: Writing


New farm games article available

I’ve just received an advance-access copy of a short piece I wrote for Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, called “Back to the Virtual Farm: Gleaning the Agriculture-Management Game.” The print version will be out in the next issue, 19.1 (Winter 2012), but you can now access the PDF here. This article is a slightly expanded version of a talk I gave at ASLE this past summer (and the essay that was awarded best paper)… here I’ve added more detail regarding farm games’ treatment of water and soil, but the full, chapter-length version will have to wait until I publish my larger dissertation work.

I’ve received several requests for the paper from ASLE members and artists and scholars working at the nexus of food politics, environmental justice, and environmental history, so I’m happy to make this work available. If you get a moment, please let me know how you use the work in your classes and whether or not it’s helped you to bring both games and food-related issues into discussion. For example, I believe that Barbara Eckstein at University of Iowa has incorporated the work into a “Locally Grown” Literature & Society class (involving undergraduates, actual farmers, and IT professionals), and I’ve had several stimulating conversations with artist Amy Franceschini of Futurefarmers over the potential for a different kind of farm game: New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and his wife are pursuing one such idea, and the University of Washington Bothell has turned social farm-game mechanics toward wetlands restoration. But I think we’re just scratching the surface of what is possible!

When a Problem Comes Along… You Must Fold It?

I’ve just posted another contribution on the University of Washington (UW) Critical Gaming Project blog, this time about Foldit, a protein-folding game developed by UW researchers. The convergence of science and gaming is, of course, of particular interest to me, and the game suggests that the term “transmedia” could be usefully extended beyond multimodal storytelling. I encourage you to try the game for yourself!

Article and Book Review Now in Print

After months of relative hibernation, I’m glad to report that I have a draft of my chapter on farm games in hand, and on other fronts, two pieces that I worked on last year are now available online and in print. The first, an article entitled “Games as Environmental Texts,” is my attempt to begin fusing literary ecocriticism with game studies, using the classic text game Adventure and the recent PSN game Flower as examples. Students with library access may download the PDF through Project MUSE. Otherwise, the print version of the issue can be purchased online through University of Nebraska Press.

Similar restrictions apply to my book review just out in the current issue of The Information Society. For those interested in scholarly writing on World of WarCraft or digital ethnography, the review covers Bonnie Nardi’s My Life as a Night Elf Priest and issues related to online anthropology.

Adding to the Critical Gaming Project

My first post for University of Washington’s Critical Gaming Project is in… a brief excursus on my latest obsession: farm games (click to read “Better Off: Back to the Virtual Farm“). I’m glad to become a part of this vibrant community of gaming scholars!