A Hodology of Videogames: Proteus

proteus_screenshot_01

Ian here—

Welcome to the third of a series of posts I’ll be doing on hodological space in games. “Hodological space” refers to the space that humans inhabit: not a space made up of strict coordinates, but a thicket of preferred paths, affected by factors such as interest, distraction, fatigue, and urgency. It’s a term that originated in the writings of psychologist Kurt Lewin, and which traveled by way of Sartre into the realm of phenomenology.

If, as Jean-Luc Godard once famously said, all you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun, than all you need to make a videogame is an island.

The island-game gave us Myst (Cyan, 1993), and it gave us last year’s The Witness (Thekla, Inc., 2016). It has also already made an appearance in this very series, with Miasmata (IonFX, 2012). But my favorite island game of all time might be Proteus (Ed Key and David Kanaga, 2013). And to really talk about what it gets right, we have to dip into issues of genre. So, buckle up: it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Continue reading

Lesson Plan: Film Scores Addendum

gravit_screenshot-01-for-second-post

Ian here—

This is just a quick addendum to my music-themed lesson on Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity (2013) from my Intro to Film course, which I posted earlier. This bit doesn’t have as much to do with synesthesia, which is why I separated it out, but it is something that I incorporated into the same lesson.

Continue reading

Lesson Plan: Popular Music, Gender Representation, and Media Effects

fifth_harmon_video-screenshot
Fifth Harmony feat. Kid Ink, “Worth It” (2015, music video directed by Cameron Duddy)

Ian here—

For three quarters in a row, I used Stanley J. Baran’s Introduction to Mass Communication textbook for my Mass Communication course. However, during that time, I drifted away from assigning Baran’s chapter on media effects. I was very upfront to students about the reasons why: I find it dull, and dry. It provides a thorough historical overview of various theories of media effects, from the Frankfurt School to George Gerbner’s “cultivation analysis,” but it doesn’t provide meaty examples of studies of effects in action. So, instead, I decided to turn my media effects week into a feminism week, and use Susan J. Douglas‘ wonderful observations on popular music and its effect on perceptions of gender roles in her book Where the Girls Are: Growing up Female with the Mass Media. The book’s breezy, first-person style is far removed from the distanced overview of sociological theories found in Baran, and a good model for the types first-person observations and analysis I hope to provoke when teaching this material.

Continue reading

Lesson Plan: Music Formats, Music Listening Practices

music-collection

Ian here—

The following is a lesson plan I used for one day on popular music in my “Introduction to Mass Communication” course at DePaul University. I first incorporated it into my syllabus for the winter 2016 quarter, and refined it some for my spring 2016 section of the class.

The overarching theme I try to give the course when I teach it is the relationship between technologies and our use of those technologies. It’s a two-step dance where the two partners frequently get out of synch, and try to adapt to one another in unexpected ways. This week, we examine how specific music format technologies created certain behaviors of listening … which then went on to shape future technologies, and so on and so forth.

Continue reading