You know that we usually focus on news about video games, but this issue of Field Reports contains a lot of articles on the role of video games in our society and how video games were formed. The machinery behind all the flickering images and pretty lights, as it were. Chemistry is not at all like Fallout 4, smart people had a debate on the good and bad things of video games, Duke Nukem 3D is more important than you might think, and Dungeons & Dragons has an origin story. Oh, and we have released our book. YES, WE HAVE A BOOK NOW!
Remember, do not pay attention to the man behind the curtain!
Welcome the 21st Centu—– issue of Field Reports!
The Interactive Past Book RELEASED!!!
IT’S HERE! After long nights of editing, writing, adjusting, more editing, and making sure everything’s where it’s supposed to be, The Interactive Past book is RELEASED!!!
After our amazing The Interactive Past conference, we asked some of our talented, lovely, cuddly, and intelligent speakers to write a chapter for a The Interactive Past book. And they did! And the result is amazing. Did I say amazing too many times? Don’t care! BECAUSE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS IS AMAZING! There’s chickens and archives, research and dig sites. Over 230 pages of pure awesomeness await you in this free digital book! Read it! Love it! Share it! Share it again! Print it out! Leave a copy in your local library! But most of all, be inspired! Let these writers inspire you. Let this book be a catalyst that furthers our research into video games and sciences! You can read the entire eBook for free using the link below, and you can purchase a PDF version, as well as a paper- and hardback version, on the Sidestone Press website, as well as on Amazon and the like!
SURROUND YOUR BRAIN MATTER WITH THESE AMAZING WORDS IN OUR BOOK!
The Queer and the Digital
Colleen Morgan from the University of York has called attention to the heteronormative representation of the past. In a presentation, she represented this flaw with the gay caveman. Following the depiction of caveman throughout recent history, she points at developments that influenced the various depictions, and the role that video games and comics can play in visualising problems.
Video Games – A Misunderstood Power for Good
We all already know that video games are amazing pieces of entertainment and art that makes you smarter, faster, better, and dare I say, more handsome. Unfortunately, a lot of sciences and the mainstream media either don’t recognise the potential video games have. How many times haven’t we heard that “video games are a waste of time” or that they’re meant for little kids? VALUE and others have been trying (and slowly succeeding) to prove that this conception is just plain wrong. Some really smart people have come together to debate about the Good and Bad of video games. They’re infinitely more eloquent and well-read into the subject than I am, so I advise you, no, plea that you watch the debate. There are some great insights, and some really interesting questions from the audience.
Watch the debate (DO IT!)
Misrepresentation of the Sciences
Archaeologists are the most obvious example of scientists that are misrepresented in video games: Lara Croft destroys more than she saves in Tomb Raider, Nathan Drake is more a supersoldier than anything, and Brann Bronzebeard more often activates world-ending machines rather than dusting off some pottery. But other sciences feel the sting of being misrepresented too. The Chemistry World, a website dedicated to chemistry news which was created by the Royal Society of Chemistry, lamented how wrong their field is represented in video games.
Minecraft: Rebuilding History
The library of Leiden has organised two sessions in which kids between the ages of 6 and 12 were invited to build a building from the city in Minecraft. However, this building must rebuild according to drawings from 1807. In this year, a ship carrying gunpowder exploded in the city center, destroying many building. Buildings that survived the disaster were drawn for further research. The children received one of these drawings, and were asked to rebuilt the building in Minecraft. The three winners had their buildings 3D-printed. This is a great and fun way to get kids interested in the history of their city, don’t you think?
You can read, in Dutch, about the event here.
Assassin’s Creed Returns Back to the Past. AGAIN!
You got some Egypt on my Assassin romp through history. The Assassin’s Creed franchise is apparently heading towards an era that is not really known for tall buildings that robed parkour-running knife aficionados can climb and jump off from. Sure; the pyramids, temples, and woman/lion hybrid statues do offer some promise of altitude motion for the trepid time travelling player. But London or Paris, it ain’t. Thanks to a leak, we learned that the new Assassin’s Creed will be a prequel set in Ancient Egypt, and that’s about it. Dust off your hieroglyph skills while you wait for an official announcement!
Polygon has a bit more info!
eSports – Watching And/Or Playing
eSports are becoming bigger and bigger, with games like Dota and League of Legends pulling in hundreds of thousands of viewers for tournaments with multi-million dollar prizes. But who are watching these eSports? And what are the biggest games?
Look away from your favourite Twitch stream for a second and read Newzoo’s report on the percentages and numbers behind eSports.
Numbers and statistics await!
The Witcher 3 – Slaying on a TV Near You
Yup, you got that right, The Witcher is getting a Netflix tv show! Hopefully they’ll stay far away from the original Polish tv serie (because that was bo-ho-hooooring). According to the press release, the game will focus on the books and disregard the games (the writer isn’t really happy with all the attention The Witcher games got, instead of his books), so fans might know what to expect.
You can read all about it on Polygon
I Came Here To Kick Ass and Write About Articles
And I’m all out of asses to kick! Wait, did I do that right? It was a rainy afternoon in 1996 when a tiny Protosmoochy first played Duke Nukem 3D. His neighbour worked at a game store and had to research the game so he could inform customers better. After a few terrifying minutes of loud noises, scary aliens, and dark lightning, I was shaking and turned to my neighbour “I don’t think this game is right for ten year olds… I’d say the minimum age should be 12!”. It’s a good thing I didn’t make it to the sex theatre in that level, or the strippers in the third level – my innocent mind would’ve been shattered. There’s a reason why the game’s 18+. Hah, “minimum age should be 12”, you knew so little, mini-Protosmoochy. Duke Nukem 3D should not require much introduction because the adult-themed, babe-rescuing, alien asskicking, 80’s actionfilm quoting FPS with interactive environments has rightly taken its place as one of the FPS greats.
Polygon wrote an AMAZING piece on why Duke Nukem 3D is such a great game and why Forever doesn’t have to be the end of the franchise.
What are you waiting for? Christmas?
Life in the (Digital) Feudal Times was Rough
Oh game development, you and your quirks, glitches, and bugs that make me glad that the programmer of planet earth has ironed out all the bugs and had millions of years of playtesting. Stuff like “the moon has been added to the night cycle and affects lighting and shadows” and “Fixed an issue with toddlers dying and disappearing if they are left without a house” sounds more like a new god writing in his diary on how he learns to control his new powers than an attempt at fixing a simulator game. Life is Feudal: Forest Village decided that knights and merchants weren’t an interesting enough aspect of the Early and High Middle Ages, and focused on a small frontier village instead. Horrible diseases, famine, natural disasters, wolves? They got that all covered. If you’re interested in visiting one of the more shitty parts of history, you can do so on May 26, when the game releases!
Check out their steam page!
Can You Survive Roman Malton?
I probably can’t! I mean, I don’t speak whatever language they spoke at the time, and the lack of Wifi would probably drive me insane before the end of the day. However, we’ll be able to find out in the near future, thanks to L. Meghan Dennis of the University of York (who coincidentally also presented at last year’s The Interactive Pasts conference). Together with some of her students, Dennis started to design Derventio Brigantum in Twine in which the player must make decisions in order to survive.
The game launches somewhere this week, so keep an eye out on their website!
Joining Forces: Civilization V Lead Designer Joins Paradox
Civilization is an immensely popular series, but hardcore nationbuilders generally prefer Paradox’ Europa Universalis, which in turn is too obtuse and confusing for a lot of players. Paradox probably figured that more people want to assassinate their queens, marry away their daughters, and invade a nearby county. By hiring Jon Shafer, lead designer of Civilization V, they made a step toward accessibility and I’m curious to see how Paradox’ next project will turn out.
PCgamer has more info.
Light Shines in the Dark (Ages)
I could spent this whole Field Reports arguing why the Dark Ages is a misnomer for the period, but you are here for the video games! The Great Whale Road is a story based RPG by a small Spanish indie developer, set in the period between 500 and 750 CE. What does this mean? (Early) vikings, trade, King Radbout (there’s still a castle where his original once stood), and gorgeous 2D maps. A Belgian linguist advised the developer on old Dutch and Frisian languages for that extra element of historical accuracy. The game’s out on Steam, but for now you can only play as the Danes.
Read the linguist’s take on the languages in the game here!
Dungeons & Dragons: How the Story Began
Dungeons & Dragons, or “hah, you rolled a 1 and instead of hitting that goblin you hit yourself in the face” and “No, you can’t use that dwarf warrior as a battering ram” as I’ve come to associate it with, is immensely popular. I mean, who doesn’t want to fight giant dragons, solve puzzles, and see their friends walk right into a fireball because they forgot to check for traps? But how did this all begin, you ask? Well lucky for you, strategically placed person in the audience that is in no way paid to ask that specific question right now, there’s a graphic novel out that’ll tell you just that! Rise of the Dungeon Master: Gary Gygax and the Creation of D&D is, beside the longest title ever recorded by mankind, a look at how Gary Gygax and others created this legendary RPG.
Kotaku wrote a bit about it.
Story Time! Telling Folk Tales in a Video Game
Many have recognised the power of video games as a medium to tell stories. But whereas The Witcher, for example, focuses on medieval and European folklore, Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is influenced by American folktales and the bluegrass culture. The trailer is chilling, the art looks amazing, and the premise unique. The player travels by railroad throughout the Southern States during the Great Depression to contribute to and benefit from the stories of people he encounters. Creating a story-driven game is no new venture for the developer, Johnnemann Nordhagen, because he was the sole programmer on the lauded game Gone Home.
Rock Paper Shotgun interviewed Nordhagen, and I can’t wait to try this game out.
Bigger, Stronger, Faster
Microsoft has announced its new console, project Scorpio, which is supposed to be a Xbox One 1.5. Said to become the strongest console yet, and a contender for mid-range pcs, Scorpio might become the machine that allows developers to develop games with better graphics and more taxing resources. The video is exciting, the numbers are big, and the images look sci-fi. Microsoft will probably release more info on the project during E3.
Until then, you can look at Project Scorpio’s webpage