By Wesley Schantz
O, she's warm!
If this be magic, let it be an art
Lawful as eating.
- The Winter's Tale
You're back! Don't bother yourself with talking now, you look too tired.
Mothers understand these things. Eat some [favorite food] and scoot up to bed.
Deep dives into video games and books, including a trove of audio for the Video Game Academy, co-hosted with Ben Kozlowski. Get involved at www.patreon.com/ProfessorKozlowski
Bookwarm GamesJul 04, 2022
Justice Questions, Questions of Meaning - Alyse Knorr on Poetry and Teaching
- Sweetbitter Podcast, with new episodes coming soon about Mary Magdalen and a fourth season in the works
- Switchback Books, which she edits with her wife
- Regis University, where she teaches alongside colleagues such as Russ Arnold
- her poetry, research, and the novel she's writing
- Annotated Glass and Sappho fragment 31
- 'Bright Star,' Keats, Eliot, Carson's Autobiography of Red; Gilgamesh and Enheduanna
- 'Anatomy Exam'
- Ardor, a book of eco-queer domestic life and love
- Every Last Thing, a book of tantrums and embarrassed apologies
(and around here you'll get a musical interlude from moonbowmusic)
- her new class on Video Games and Meaning: topics, problems, persuasion and social justice: Hair Nah and microaggressions; Oregon Trail and colonialism; Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, by Gabrielle Zevin; Passage; citizen science; This War of Mine; Papers, Please; Train; Anna Anthropy's Dys4ia, Queers in Love at End of World, and ZZT.
- Her new novel (agents, check it out), a postapocalyptic story of love and a journey in a world with too much stuff, not enough people
Alyse also recommends Merlin for birdwatching; "The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock," by TS Eliot; "Married," "Alone," "In Dispraise of Poetry," and "Failing and Flying," by Jack Gilbert.
Thank you for reading and listening! from the Video Game Academy
Enchantment in His Dark Materials: Conversation with MG Prezioso
MG Prezioso, PhD candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, joins me to discuss her work on the role of enchantment in promoting literacy for young readers, particularly in the case of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials. Her article appears in Children's Literature in Education; for more on Pullman's view of education, see his essays in Daemon Voices and sundry remarks available online. Thanks for listening!
Shadow Particles with Evan Minto of Ani-Gamers / EarthBound Beginnings and Dragon Quest with Signum
Cross-pollination and housekeeping here at the break at the end of the year, stirring up dust and sending out links to past broadcasts:
First, here's the link to a recent conversation with Evan Minto on Season 3 Episode 3 of His Dark Materials, The Intention Craft.
Then, listen on for one of my semi-monthly discussions from the Middle-earth to EarthBound series on Signum Academy, an introduction to classic JRPGs like Dragon Quest and MOTHER/EarthBound in the light of Tolkien's influence on storytelling.
There's more bookwarm games and gamecool books to come in the new year, starting with a new Video Game Studies module in SPACE.
Happy holidays, and thanks for listening!
Conflicting Pirate Agendas: Assassin's Creed 4
Professor Kozlowski spins us a yarn of the high seas. Pirate opportunism, whale physics, development metafiction, and a polyphony of voices and moral gray areas--it's a good game, but is it actually an Assassin's Creed? Well, yeah. It says so on the box.
The Menu Requires a Loading Screen: Assassin's Creed 3
Along for the ride as Professor Kozlowski weaves together the 2012 PS3 game's disparate threads better than the Ubisoft team does: Patriots and Loyalists; colonizers and oppressed; East coast cities and homesteads; first hour fake-outs and begrudging good riddance to the Desmond stuff. But hey, the naval battles are pretty cool. See also: The Year Project Moon Took Over Ben's Life and Fahrenheit 451
You Buy Rome: AC Brotherhood & Revelations
Drop the Loot: Assassin's Creed 2
Professor Kozlowski returns. Our resident guest lecturer is back with a discussion of Assassin's Creed's splashy sequel, and... it's complicated. After the let-down that was their Prince of Persia reboot, the developers had to go big. So Renaissance Italy, andiamo~! More variety! More da Vinci! More weapons! But. It's kinda. Not as fun.
Thanks for listening.
Lamb Dad, Lion Dad: Introducing The Thoughtful Dad Podcast
Another guest lecture, after a fashion. Joe and I started a new series on being a dad. Share it with a dad or thoughtful caretaker in your life!
First episode! We share thoughts on news sources, TV at dinnertime and screen time in general; the "Tiger Mom" Amy Chua interview on Honestly with Bari Weiss and what sorts of dads we are; backyard baptisms and letting the kids help build things.
Intro/outro: Wesley and William playing 'Undertale'
Share determination and send us questions: thoughtfuldadpodcast at gmail. Thanks for listening.
Surprise! It's a Lecture: Assassin's Creed Retrospective
Professor Kozlowski lays it down. Everything is permitted? We see your forthcoming book, Cameron Kunzelman of the Game Studies Study Buddies, and raise you one podcast (this one) and one article replete with Dostoevsky references (also forthcoming).
Ante up with Ben's history and dev history; getting to know the open world; crowds in-game and reception in real life; historical realism; Zero Punctuation critiques; conspiracy nonsense (spoilers: maybe we should think twice about giving a Piece of Eden to Al Mualim) and actual philosophy. Assassins vs Templars? Meh. Exploring the tensions between ideas of freedom and order throughout history? Sign us up!
Wait, the rest of the series is actually going to deliver on that, right? Right??
Thanks for listening.
Geez, you're persistent - Ch 8: All Things... MOTHER 3 (8/8)
I Make Sparkly: Ch 7 The Seven Needles (cont.) - MOTHER 3 (7/8)
Ch 6: Sunflower Fields & Ch 7: The [First Four] Needles - MOTHER 3 (6/8)
Forlorn Junk Heap: Ch 5 Tower of Thunder - MOTHER 3 (5/8)
Theoretical possibilities in the series include beating Belch without Fly Honey and the Pork Trooper without the DCMC Pamphlet, but why would you? Audio clips from the soundtrack as preserved at starmen.net; discussion audio hosted by 3rdStrongest. Join the conversation at our humble Video Game Academy. Thanks for listening.
Trust in Destiny: Ch 4 Club Titiboo - MOTHER 3 (4/8)
We finally play as Lucas again, finding fireworks and rhythms in gift boxes and playing Stone-Sheet-Clippers for the fate of the world. Audio clips from the soundtrack as preserved at starmen.net; discussion audio hosted by 3rdStrongest. Join the conversation at our humble Video Game Academy. Thanks for listening.
In this psychic dojo: Psychonauts - Intro/Basic Braining
We cozy up to the campfire for another Video Game Academy summer playthrough--another game about kids with psychic powers: Psychonauts. This time, we're meeting some characters, running through battlefields of mental baggage and social dynamics, and sticking the landing on some bouncy tightropes. Join the conversation at our humble Video Game Academy. Thanks for listening.
If I say dance, you dance! Ch 3: The Mysterious Peddler - MOTHER 3 (3/8)
In which we discuss Fassad and Salsa's relationship and how it is even worse than Wess and Duster's; with yet more insight into Itoi's fascination with monkeys. Audio clips from the soundtrack as preserved at starmen.net; discussion audio hosted by 3rdStrongest. Join the conversation at our humble Video Game Academy. Thanks for listening.
My humble little [favorite food] patch: Ch 2 Thief Adventure - MOTHER 3 (2/8)
Rougher! Tougher! Badder! Prologue and Ch 1 - MOTHER 3 (pt 1 of 8)
In the long-awaited sequel to EarthBound, as localized by Tomato et al., we parse some shocking developments and developer choices. Audio clips from the soundtrack as preserved at starmen.net; discussion audio hosted by 3rdStrongest. Join the conversation at our humble Video Game Academy. Thanks for listening.
Powers worthy of a lowly insect: MOTHER / EarthBound Beginnings (8/8)
What is Itoi's fascination with monkeys? MOTHER / EarthBound Beginnings (7/8)
All work and no play: MOTHER / EarthBound Beginnings (6/8)
Have you seen the woman with a big belly? MOTHER / EarthBound Beginnings (5/8)
The Custodial Arts: MOTHER / EarthBound Beginnings (4/8)
Lloyd's school and the factories, with a digression on music (Twinkle Elementary and the File Select remix by Ace Waters). Audio clips from the soundtrack as preserved at starmen.net; discussion audio hosted by 3rdStrongest. Join the conversation at our humble Video Game Academy. Thanks for listening.
Are you a forgotten man, too? MOTHER / EarthBound Beginnings (3/8)
Starman Zookeeper: MOTHER / EarthBound Beginnings (2/8)
Itoi's Rural America: MOTHER / EarthBound Beginnings (pt 1 of 8)
Gamecool 78: Her own key to the garden
Final Fantasy VI and VII Comparison
Alex Schmid and I revisit the golden age of the JRPG, with a nod to our oft-collaborating younger selves. https://videogameacademia.org/
Reekwind and Side Quests - Planescape: Torment pt 4
Lost audio from the fall. Apologies, all, for the lateness! Video Game Academy is not dead, we've just been on hiatus what with school and everything. https://videogameacademia.org/
The Smoldering Corpse (Planescape: Torment 3)
We kick back with Ebb Creakknees and stack our coppers, saving up for a new tattoo from Fell. You know, the only one of the Lady's servants who when he walks, like Shakespeare's dark lady of Sonnet 130, treads on the ground. https://videogameacademia.org/ Music from the OST.
You're my wiki tabs - Stardew Valley
We gather down at the Video Game Academy farm for a round-picnic-table discussion of the phenomenal Stardew Valley. For more, see the full almanac over at http://videogameacademia.org/ Music from the OST
Into the Hive - Planescape: Torment 2
We get acquainted with Sigil, meet some friendly denizens and fellow wanderers, and consider some of the factions vying for our services. http://videogameacademia.org/courses/planescape-torment/ Music from the OST
Planes, drains, and ominous spiels - Planescape: Torment (pt 1)
What makes us think this life is real? Well, we spot Bob the skull--I mean Morte--, Willem Dafoe--er, The Nameless One--, and, on the heels of Deionarra the ghost, Corey! And Mike joins us to provide some lore on the background for the OG Planescape: Torment, including World of Darkness and the Outer Planes of D&D. Dusties, zombies, etc. look out! https://videogameacademia.org/courses/planescape-torment/
Gamecool 77: The Word Alone
Discussing ch 36-37 of The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman. https://newschoolnotes.blogspot.com/2020/02/gamecool-books-amber-spyglass.html
It's Cuckoo Clock over Don Quixote, 2 to 1
Esteemed listeners, big news. Website tidyings-up and new mascots are on the way. Plus, by popular demand, t-shirt giveaways? https://videogameacademia.org/
Back to Video Game Academy
It's the Sunday afternoon of the year, and we're setting up plans for the coming semesters. That means a little Planescape: Torment, a smidgeon of Shadowrun: Dragonfall, and maybe some Undertale and Stardew Valley. Help us with our follow-through? We'd love to hear from you. https://videogameacademia.org/2021/08/15/the-sunday-afternoon-of-the-year/
Gamecool 76: The Cause of It All
Discussing ch 34-35 of The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman. Course page https://newschoolnotes.blogspot.com/2020/02/gamecool-books-amber-spyglass.html Music comes from Hilary James and Simon Mayer, "Over the Hills and Far Away"
Gamecool 75: A Taste--A Memory--A Landslide
Discussing ch 32-33 of The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman. https://newschoolnotes.blogspot.com/2020/02/gamecool-books-amber-spyglass.html
The Hell's Kitchen Sink (Deus Ex 3)
We throw it back to Shakespeare and Chesterton, eschewing the Holy Smokes and helping the Smuggler's friend make it back to the surface. https://videogameacademia.org/courses/deus-ex/ Music from the OST.
Gamecool 74: A Melancholy Light
Discussing ch 30-31 of The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman, with a glance towards his novel Galatea. http://newschoolnotes.blogspot.com/2020/02/gamecool-books-amber-spyglass.html
Are you sure you pressed the right button? (Deus Ex: Revision 2 of ??)
We wanted orange and it gave us lemon-lime. It's a conspiracy! Discussing the UNATCO HQ and its bizarro alter ego in Battery Park. Videos of Prof Ben's gameplay and more course materials: https://videogameacademia.org/courses/deus-ex/ Music from the OST.
A bunch of pretentious old men playing at running the world (Deus Ex pt 1)
The dreaded stealth training sequence, famed first mission, and general milieu of Deus Ex: Revision. Midway through Liberty Island, Steve's neighbor must have hacked us (that is, I forgot to refresh the recording tab) so we lost a few minutes there of Prof Ben laying out what's at stake in the interlocking character creation/progression and moral choice systems and the headless Statue of Liberty. Still, not bad for a first foray into the FPS CRPG darkness. More course info and twitch streams coming soon at https://videogameacademia.org/courses/deus-ex/ Music from the OST.
Gamecool 73: You meant the very opposite
On ch 28-29 of The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman, with apologies for the delay and recommendations for further listening:
There's short discussions of Pullman's Fairy Tales from The Brothers Grimm, Clockwork, The Scarecrow and his Servant, and The Firework-Maker's Daughter
The Sadness of Plagiarism, the Joys of Deus Ex
Welcome back, it's summer again and we have much to discuss. If you'd like to get honest feedback on original work, read books with us, or suggest a future game, visit https://videogameacademia.org/
Another look at RPG history from Gamemaker's Toolkit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJiwn8iXqOI
Human Sheepification Project (World's End Club 4 of 4)
Time for the final showdown with the evil AI du jour. Three personalities and nanomachines galore MAIK may have, but with feelings and friendship we can prevail--feelings like disappointment, annoyance, regret... but also relief at World's End Club being over. Music from the OST. Visit us at https://videogameacademia.org/
Video Game Academy: Camping (World's End Club 3 of 4)
We come up to the mid-game twists and turns and stop just shy of the obligatory bad end. Apologies for the delay posting this episode, but camping last week was a lot of fun. Provided the rolling blackouts here in Spokane hold off another day or two, we'll be back on schedule. Visit us at https://videogameacademia.org/ for more. Music from the OST. Edit: The Ezra Klein interview mentioned is with Brian Christian.
Video Game Academy: Ganbari Go-getters (World's End Club 2 of 4)
We discuss the long-lost EarthBound script files recovered and analyzed by The Video Game History Foundation: https://gamehistory.org/earthbound-script-files/. Then, as we make our way to Osaka in World's End Club, there's a twist you may or may not have seen coming a mile away. https://videogameacademia.org/
Video Game Academy: World's End Club Round 1 (of 4)
We chat summer plans and run through the first hour or so of World's End Club. Music from the OST. For more on visual novels: https://videogameacademia.org/courses/video-game-studies/intro-to-visual-novels/
My list of things to analyze later (NieR: Automata 12/12)
Here we are at the end(s) of NieR: Automata. If it's a bit too abstract to understand at this time, if it feels like carrying the weight of the world, we're here for you. The Video Game Academy: we get that being alive is pretty much a constant stream of embarrassment. Music comes from the OST. https://videogameacademia.org/
It reads "soul box" (NieR: Automata 11)
We discuss the meat box and soul box, sand worms and cannibal machines; or in other words, the mind-body problem, Hegel, Nietzsche, and Pascal. For more un-compressed conversation, see https://videogameacademia.org/ or tune into https://www.twitch.tv/3rdstrongest Music comes from the OST. Thanks for listening.