Archive for August, 2007

Larry Bond’s New Site

Larry Bond, co-author (with some guy named Tom Clancy) of the classic military fiction Red Storm Rising and designer of the Harpoon series of naval wargames (on which episodes in the book are based) has a new Web site.

Comments (1)

Preserving Virtual Worlds

[News of new funded research I’m involved in. MGK]

The Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) is delighted to announce we are partnering with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Stanford University, the Rochester Institute of Technology, and Linden Lab (creators of Second Life) for a project funded by the Library of Congress’s National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) on PRESERVING VIRTUAL WORLDS. The two-year $590,000 award under NDIIPP’s Preserving Creative America program will be shared among the project participants.

The researchers leading the work at the University of Maryland are NEIL FRAISTAT (Professor of English and Director, MITH), MATTHEW KIRSCHENBAUM (Associate Professor of English and Associate Director, MITH), and KARI KRAUS (Assistant Professor, College of Information Studies and English).

The Preserving Virtual Worlds project will explore methods for preserving digital games, interactive fiction, and shared realtime virtual spaces. Major activities will include developing basic standards for metadata and content representation and conducting a series of archiving case studies for early video games and electronic literature, as well as Second Life, the popular and influential multi-user online world. According to Fraistat, “This award from the Library of Congress places MITH and its partners at the forefront of those addressing a range of increasingly urgent questions involving the preservation of creative works that are “born digital”–from interactive electronic literature, to digital games, to virtual worlds such as Second Life. We are especially pleased to have as an industry partner, Linden Lab, the creator of Second Life itself.”

In addition to contributing to the work on Second Life, Maryland will take the lead on interactive fiction/electronic literature as a sub-domain of the project, and will be occupied with all aspects of scoping, metadata, intellectual property, evaluation, and archiving of these materials. We will initially focus on a small number of targeted works of recognized cultural and literary significance, including former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky’s 1984 interactive novel Mindwheel, Will Crowther’s ADVENTURE (written in 1975 and widely considered the earliest interactive text of its kind), and selected items from a large private collection of 1980s-era hardware and software recently gifted to MITH. The international Electronic Literature Organization will also extend its support and in kind contributions to our work here at Maryland.

The project begins in January 2008. Notice of other recent Preserving Creative America NDIIPP awards is available here:

Comments off

Grognards Invade Terra Nova

Nice thread on board wargames unspooling on Terra Nova, a group blog that serves as a hub for the virtual worlds brain trust. They give a shout out to the first piece of online writing I ever did about wargames, “I Was a Teenage Grognard,” which originated as a blog entry over on my MGK site and which seems to have found a good audience. That same piece garnered an extended reference over at Scratchpad a few weeks ago.

I’m glad to see the interest in board wargames in the mainstream ludology community, and that more and more folks are picking up on what’s seemed obvious to me for a while now, that these games remain relevant and have things to teach designers, players, and game scholars.

That’s basically the thesis of a longish piece I have forthcoming in Third Person, the follow up to the First Person and Second Person volumes already published by the MIT Press, and, like its predecessors, expertly edited by Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. My chapter, called “War Stories: Board Wargames and Vast (Procedural) Narratives,” argues that it is procedural granularity that stimulates what Marie-Laure Ryan has termed narrativity, i.e. a game’s potential to serve as a narrative agent. The volume should be out in late 2008.

Comments off

The Good Old Days

Picked up an old issue of The Avalon Hill Game Company’s house organ The General on eBay (May-June 1977) and was amused to read this response from the editor in the letters column:

Although S&T [Strategy and Tactics, SPI’s rival mag] delights in passing along news of our impending games before we do, you’ve got to keep in mind that their “Gossip” column is aptly named. Much of the information they pass on in reference to our operations is inaccurate, if not pure fabrication. It’s sort of a friendly game we play. They try to “jerk our chain” by printing our “news” first and we get our jollies by feeding false reports to their “spies.”

Ah, the good old days, when there were only two companies and three numbers on the counters.

Comments off