Game Studies Symposium at Kadıköy

Today I was a moderator at the Game Studies Symposium that took place at TAK (Kadıköy Design Workshop), and I had the honour to sit around the same table with a number of prominent figures from the turkish game studies and game development scene: Kerem Yavuz Demirbaş (IT Kopenhagen, Marmara U.), Tonguç Sezen (Georgia Tech, Bilgi U.), Diğdem Sezen (Georgia Tech, İstanbul U.), and Fasih Sayın (Crytek İstanbul, İstanbul U.). We had an interesting talk about game studies in front of a group of around 100 game developers, game researchers and game enthusiasts. Topics changed quickly and showed great variety, and the audience was keen to jump in with nice comments!

Before and after the event, I find the chance to talk many friends such as Ali Batı (a very talented and successful game developer from İstanbul) and Orçun Nişli (known for his work on the game Monochrome), and also some of the students that I worked together with at the BUG Game Dev Summer School back in 2012: Engin, Furkan, Atakan, Güney and Şan.

The organizer of the event was Güven Çatak, founder and executive at BUG Labs in Bahçeşehir U./İstanbul, in cooperation with Mehmet Kentel from the turkish critical game studies blog Fareler Oyunda. I’m thankful for the good time they made possible for us!

Global Game Jam: The best thing that can happen to you!

Gazimagusa had a great first time at the Global Game Jam this year! A group of 15 people spent more than 48 hours at the Green Hall Complex of the Eastern Mediterranean University to come together and engage into the most exciting thing on earth: making games!

Our event was aired via ustream for the entire 48 hours. Despite being our first ever participation in a game jam, the organization was flawless and no problem has been reported. Three teams were formed during the process, and one team was able to finish their game in time.

It was a great event and we are looking forward to the GGJ 2011!!!

Our logo!

Discussing the layout and loop structure of a background image for the game Yakuza!

Mature Games podcast at GDAM

Have you lately been following the developments over at Sande Chen’s Game Aspect of the Month (GDAM)? The blog is known for serving as a platform for discussion  for game designer and scholars alike. So far, GDAM featured many articles on subjects like player death, prototyping, and trends of simplicity. This month’s July rally, however, came with the launch of a brandnew feature: A podcast on mature games!

It had been revealed earlier that in the coming months we will be able to listen to more of such podcasts!

This month’s Mature Games session which is moderated by 2007 Writers Guild Award in Videgame Writing nominee Sande Chen, features NY-based writer CJ Kershner and designer-turned programmer Ryon Levitt from japanese game developer KOEI. Issues range from serious games to sex and violence, and the participants touch on games like Starcraft, Passage and Harry Potter. If you have a few spare minutes, just tune in, it’s definitely worth the time!

This is not a bite

Belgian painter René Magritte is known for his paintings which are questioning the relationship between images, language and reality. One of his most famous paintings in that regard is often known as Ceci N’est Pas Une Pipe, or “This is not a pipe”.

The Betrayal of Images - Rene Magritte (1953)

The Betrayal of Images - Rene Magritte (1953)

This painting became the basis for a book which was published in 1973 by french philosopher Michel Foucault. The book carried the title “This is not a pipe”. But this wasn’t the first time that Foucault referred to Magritte. One of Foucault’s most famous books carried the name Les Mots et les Choses  (meaning ‘Words and Things’, but the book is known in the english speaking world as “The Order of Things”). This was also the name of one of Rene Magritte’s former exhibitions in New York.

To depict is not to put something forward, says the header of the final chapter of the book. “A day will come”, says Foucault in the last sentence, “and the endlessly repeating image, together with the name it carries, will lose its identity. Campbell, Campbell, Campbell, Campbell.”

What is it that makes me think so much about play in this?

Bite, bite, bite, bite.

I’m back!

Since a few months, I was waiting for an amnesty for ex-PhD students.  Yesterday the law regarding the amnesty passed through the turkish parliament. This means that I’ll be allowed to return to my old PhD program… after a break of almost 10 years!

A lot of things changed meanwhile. Back in 1998 I prepared myself to write a thesis on film. I had an advisor at that time that was an expert on turkish cinema. She wanted me to write a dissertation that revolves around the concept “turkish film” and “democracy”. But that was not exactly what I wanted. I wanted to write a thesis on the “political horizon” that was depicted in popular turkish films of the 1990s and what their discourse tells us about the future of turkish society. I wanted to make a “projective” analyses of contemporary turkish film based on approaches taken from Sigfried Kracauer’s From Caligari to Hitler and D.M. Thomas’ novel The White Hotel. My position would have been somewhere between Marxism, Anarchism and Deconstruction. I planned to build each chapter around a binary opposition: folk-intellectuals, civilian-soldier, man-woman, west-southeast, anatolia-metropolis, decadence-substance etc and wanted to look at films in regard to how they use these binary oppositions to describe the ideal society they envision… from here I wanted to re-draw the general picture of society that popular turkish films idealized and ask myself which social classes and groups are ignored in this picture (or rendered obsolete)? Who were the ones that should fear about their future if our society doesn’t get away from this “hate culture” that marked it so dangerously?

My advisor didn’t like this subject. She found it too complex and wanted me to stick to the topic “the concept of democracy in turkish film”. This her wish, however, took away my last bits of motivation. A year later or so, I resigned from my former position at the Ankara University and did not follow any longer my interest into the PhD program I was part of. Instead I moved to Cyprus and started to work as an instructor. A year later I devoted myself completely to the dream topic of my childhood: video games! I entered a completely new and different learning process. I wrote my last article on turkish film in 2003. After that, I never ever got back to the topic.

Now I’m back!… But not to cinema. I’m back in order to write a PhD on video games! I wanted to do this under an architecture department… but now, after the amnesty, I’ll do it under a communication studies department. But it will not really matter. I’m more than ready to write it. I can’t wait to get it finished!

Oh, and I’ll have a new advisor ;)

The Snowflake: A Model for Stories with Branching Structures?

Today I was at the local bookstore. As I was looking for a copy of Homer’s Odysseia, I came accross a section dedicated to Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel-Prize winning turkish author. An illustration on the backcover of his book Kar (Snow, published in 2002) suddenly catched my attention. Here it is:

Illustration from the backcover of Orhan Pamuk's novel "Kar" (Snow, 2002)

Illustration from the backcover of Orhan Pamuk's novel Kar (Snow) dating back to the year 2002.

The cover artist combined a stylized snowflake with the names of characters and sections in the story. I don’t know wether it was Pamuk’s own idea. But suddenly I heard myself saying: “Stories are like snowflakes: They all look alike, but still each one of them is unique.”

More than that, I think a snowflake model could be useful for game writers that work on stories with “branching” structures.

At The Writer’s Cabal!

To my surprise I found out this morning that one of my articles -Space and Narrative in Video Games- has been featured at The Writer’s Cabal  (Sande Chen and Anne Toole’s Blog, which is a great place if you are into game writing). I’m really happy with being mentioned at such a great place alongside industry veteran Greg Costikyan!

The link refers to my older blog at Blogger. However, this article can be found here on my Wordpress blog too. Just check out the menu on the right or follow this link.

Read the blog entry that features my article at the Writer’s Cabal here.

Design Documents of Xbox Live Arcade Game “Shred Nebula” Published At Game Career Guide

If you want to see the documentation of one of the latest Xbox Lİve Arcade games, go and check out the pages of Game Career Guide. There you can find two documents written by Crunch Time Games‘ John Goddard for the game Shred Nebula. The documents include the “pitch document” and “60 seconds of gameplay”. I had a look at them and they look very neat and good written, with lots of art samples and frameshots. These are documents I’ll definitely recommend to my students.

Patrick Curry’s 52 Game Ideas

As I surfed through the web I tossed at this: Patrick Curry’s 52 Game Ideas. In a challenge he issued himself, Patrick Curry, lead designer of Stubbs the Zombie *, published a new game idea every week during the year 2006 . And he kept his promise: At the end of the year, no less than 52 game ideas were posted. But as you will see, Curry did not only match the expectations in terms of quantity, but also in quality. Lots of creative and fun stuff up there.

I admire Curry’s discipline and the enthusiasm he had for his own idea. I could not help myself saying “me too!” and I want to do something similar for the coming year. After all there is a great example to follow. But to be honest, I’ll be happy enough if I can meet the expected quantity, because on the imaginative side it will be impossible to match Curry’s creativity.

*Watch Stubbs on Youtube