Scene 1: An apartment. The walls are covered with Academy Award-winning movie posters. A man slouches on a couch, his hand resting in a giant bowl of popcorn. A pile of DVDs tumbles off of a coffee table. The drone of music and the chatter of voices can be heard from a small television screen.
The phone rings. A hand reaches for the phone.
Man on couch: Hello?
Voice on phone: Glassner! Some maniac has left another package for the mayor in the basement of the Cartwright building. Get your butt over there pronto!
The camera turns to reveal the face of our protagonist, Andrew Glassner. His eyes glint with the excitement of another bomb to be defused.
Glassner puts down the phone. He takes a remote control out of his pocket and pauses the movie on the television. He grabs his keys from a table, and picks up a black bag marked “Bomb Squad” by the front door. Before we can fully comprehend the speed of his actions, we see the front door closing. Glassner is on the job.
Two years ago I wrote some 5000 words discussing rules for creating computer games [An Economy of Rules]. I left off with some statements about the volatile nature of computer games, and a promise to continue the series with something called The New Forms Manifesto.
Clearly I haven’t written it yet.
I came across What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy by James Paul Gee and decided to give it a read.
Straight off the bat, Gee informs us that while he has academic credentials (primarily as a reformed linguist) he has only discovered video games in the past few years. This sets the tone for the book: this is not to be a dry tome full of footnotes and theories, but rather a journal of one man’s experiences with video games.
Only it isn’t just a journal. The more interesting bits are where Gee presents us with his experiences playing games like Pikmin and Half-Life, and though he doesn’t make many sophisticated observations about gameplay he does have an interesting perspective to share.
The Misenchanted Sword by Lawrence Watt-Evans.
What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy by James Paul Gee. Notes to follow.
The Wild Palms by William Faulkner.
Beyond the Blue Event Horizon by Frederik Pohl.
Company by Max Barry. Funny for about ten pages, then it just becomes tedious and sloppy.
Oh, and I also listened to a books-on-tape version of The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad. This would have been nine hours of agony, but I was able to adjust the pitch control on my tape player and speed things up a bit. A dreary book.