Tom Apperley’s research is now online

On January 17, 2005 by christy

Tom Apperley, fellow cross-media researcher at the University of Melbourne (different department though), is publishing his thesis-in-progress online.

Appereley is focusing on the game, specifically console, dimension of cross-media (where games are an ‘intertextual commodity’), and on ‘interactivity’. He is also doing a valuable ethnographic comparison of Venezuelan and Australian gamers. His posts include:

Preliminary Report on Venezuelan ‘Gaming Situation’

Subsequently I mentioned this game to other people in conversation I discovered that while the game was universally admired for its game-play and technical excellence, there was a general feeling of ambivalence towards the subject matter of the game. In short, while people were pleased that Venezuela was the setting for such a prominent game, they felt that the scenario was implausible. I interpreted this as a cognitive dissonance with the world-view of the game, which was designed with a North Americans audience in mind. To its intended audience the game was located within pre-existing tropes of anxiety involving terrorism, oil supplies and the Latino ‘Other’.

A listing of sites on Lara Croft for his research into the fans of Lara
General Ludological links
An article-in-progress on genre and games

The main argument is that the market-based categories of genre that have been developed in the context of computer games obscures the new mediumÂ’s crucial defining feature, by dividing them into categories (loosely) organized by their similarities to prior forms of mediation. The article explores the inherent tension between the conception of computer games as a unified new media form and the current fragmented genre-based approach that explicitly or implicitly concatenates computer games with prior media forms.

A draft of chapter one of his thesis
In this chapter I found, among other gems, a great proposal:

I suggest a third type of interaction exists; that of interaction with the rules of the interaction themselves. This type of interaction is radically different, as it allows the player to change the cybertext by altering its ergodic structure, rather than by making choices within that structure. The practice of altering the cybertext in this manner is known as ‘moding’.

Also, his first graduate seminar paper on designing a Research Method for X-box

The technology and practices associated with gaming encourages a new model of commodification and consumption. The transmedia intertextual commodity: here I am refering to the current ubiquitous trend in the mass media to remediate the same content across all media platforms. The Book/Film/Game/Happy Meal phenomena that is associated with most contemporary mass media products. While I believe on one hand this is a calculated marketing tool in the sense of a product reaching all kinds of demographics, to put it crudely a shotgun effect. On the other hand this form of commodification encourages a deliberate process of intertextual assemblage during the audiences production of meaning, which allows the audience to experience a sense that each product is a part of a wider mediated universe that is largely constructed in the minds of the audience through the process of assemblage of the disparate medias.

An article-in-progress: Queering the Game Player

Popular media portrayals of the activity of computer gaming, with few exceptions, associate the computer game with a male audience. In this article I will explore the implications of this linkage in order to foreshadow problems in the ethnographic enquiry I propose on the uses of x-box games and the x-box in everyday life. Part of my project here is to try to understand, how should I approach the gamer as an ethnographic subject. By considering gaming as an ‘a-priori’ masculine activity, I suggest that I would be ignoring the myriad practices and activities of female, gay and transgender gamers. My project in this article is to open the quotidian practices of gaming to include the heterogenous practices and pleasures that can only be accounted for by detaching games from the dominant discourse of masculinity in which they circulate; in short it is to ‘Queer’ the predominantly masculine field of games.

He has opened up comments on his blog so please feel free to contribute to his research. Great to be able to read your ideas Tom, and not just scribble down notes as you say them! Congrats on being online.