November 29th, 2018
Digital Scholarship Lab Flex Space, Main Library (2nd Floor West)


Level 101: A Video Game About Video Games

Justin Wigard

Within the field of game studies, video games are explained, analyzed, and dissected through modes of meaning-making that lack interactivity, a surprising problem given that the medium of the video game is, according to Mark J. P. Wolf, a medium hingent upon player interactivity for “without player activity, there would be no game.” I argue that the video game represents an area of great potential as a tool of meaning-making, one that is ripe for intervention through the digital humanities in terms of producing video games that act as modes of academic inquiry, that extend beyond simple instances of educational games or edutainment. The proposed presentation talks about the development and current progress of Level 101: A Video Game About Video Games — a serious video game that hopes to explain, interrogate, and deconstruct the video game medium through three significant branches of understanding video games: 1) Video game history, 2) Video game design, and 3) Video game genre. Each of these three branches will feature five levels that are designed to educate undergraduate college students about the video game as a medium, as well as encourage students to think critically about video games and the process of playing through them. As a recipient of the DH@MSU 2018 Summer Seed Grant Award, this presentation will report on 1) the rationale behind Level 101, 2) data from an informal user experience survey about Level 101, and 3) the current development progress for Level 101.

Visualizing Queer Narrative in Video Games

Cody Mejeur

This presentation examines how games alter our conceptions of narrative through the fluidity and variability of play. As Shira Chess argues, games demand a reconsideration of narrative because they reject heteronormative expectations of climax and catharsis that dominate other narrative media, and instead embrace a “narrative middle” that emphasizes process and open-endedness (Chess 2016, p. 88). Building on Chess’s work, this presentation argues that games challenge perceptions of narrative form as static or determined, and that they instead reveal how play animates, warps, and shatters forms such as signs, interfaces, and rules. Using visualizations of queer games as examples, this paper demonstrates how play queers narrative forms by blurring their boundaries and exploding their structures, and suggests that narrative is a living, playful, and situated process with emergent and queer potentials.

Binge vs Not Binge: The Content Analysis of the Common Features of the Binge-able TV Series

Ezgi Ulusoy

The current research will conduct a content analysis of binged and non-binged TV shows by using Netflix data. According to Netflix study (2016), people are more likely to binge on thrillers, dramatic comedies, horror, sci-fi and action rather than political, historical, superhero, and crime dramas. Looking at the summary of shows binged (Netflix, 2016), it appears that people do not prefer cognitively challenging contents to binge-watch. However, there is not a systematic analysis relating to this relation and the list includes different genres each year. For example, last year’s analysis (Netflix, 2017) on binged contents included the Confession Tapes which is a documentary/crime that is more likely to be listed under cognitive challenge. Thus, studying the core elements of binge-watched shows might indeed help explaining why people binged. Previous literature has been focused on the relation of binge-watching to addiction and mood restoration. Nevertheless, the current research stresses a necessity on a deeper understanding. Therefore, this research will study the content features (content challenge, dispositional alignments and valence of emotion) beyond genres to explain why some shows are binge-watched while others are consumed in a slower order. While it is a research in the developing stage, the researcher hopes to get feedback and suggestions to improve her idea and paper.

The Museum of Urban Naturalism: Digital Narrative in Citizen Science

Matthew Rossi

Media portrayals of nature, such as exist in film series like Planet Earth frame the natural world as vast, dramatic, and other. This constructs nature in the public imagination in ways that reinforce Romantic notions of wilderness and make it difficult to understand the presence of biological systems in human spaces. How can we use tools of citizen science, such as photographs taken with a simple paper field microscope and a smartphone, to reframe the public narrative around nature as small, quiet, and coexistent with humans? In this presentation, I will discuss the Museum of Urban Naturalism, a multimodal experiment in translating the narrative moves of a natural history museum into an online space. My presentation will address my project’s efforts to harness the reach of social media and the ubiquity of smartphone technology to engage with scientific communication as a narrative form. It will also consider how the tools of citizen science, may be used to see, listen to, and consider nature in ways that are restricted by the demands of traditional scholarly research.

Old Friends, New Faces: perceptions and expectations when narrative characters are reimagined

Sara Grady

Characters which leap off the page or live beyond their source text(s) are nothing new. Indeed, ancient myths and oral traditions require character and narrative mutability to survive infinite retellings and reimaginings. Zeus is larger than life; Falstaff, Jane Eyre, and Mr. Darcy are, too. (See also: Superman, Han Solo, and Spock.)

Yet little empirical research explores how the cognitive experience of narratives and their inhabitants changes over repeat exposures and across digital environments. Modern social science provides new tools with which explore our cognitive, mental and emotional involvement with narrative content and shed light on the meaning-making process. And digital media afford unique opportunities to watch, share, discuss, and relive the same stories and meet the same characters over multiple channels and interactive interfaces.

In the preliminary plans, our focus centers on user expectations (and expectation violations) when new content or new adaptations are introduced to an existing narrative canon. Initially, we propose two studies which analyze audience expectations and impressions of new incarnations of established characters. The first, a time-release survey surrounding the new adaptation of Little Women; the other, a content analysis of YouTube comments on movie trailers for a popular fiction franchise.

Theme and word analysis in the contemporary corrido (Mexican Ballad)

Mary Ann Lugo and Miguel A. Cabañas

Reporting on the DH@MSU Seed Funding project as laid out here.

CFP (now closed)

Over 20 years ago, Janet Murray argued that new media and digital technologies had the potential to revolutionize narrative, heralding the arrival of the storyteller who is “half hacker, half bard” and media “capable of capturing both the hairbreadth movements of individual human consciousness and the colossal crosscurrents of global society” (9). Since then, digital environments ranging from electronic literature to video games to virtual reality to social media to archives and beyond have allowed multi-faceted approaches to narrative form, and generated a multitude of ways of utilizing digital tools to enhance the storytelling process. The adoption of digital tools to produce narrative has enriched the ways we construct meaning across the distinctive features of our digital and networked platforms, and led to new ways of using narrative to understand ourselves, each other, and our cultures. Narrative production and circulation are further entangled in politics, with digital platforms and user communities often controlling the ways that narrative is created, preserved, and spread.

This LOCUS asks us to explore how Digital Humanities has engaged with narrative, broadly construed as the process of storytelling and meaning-making across media. We encourage participation from scholars in any discipline with projects that are fully developed, in process, or in the brainstorming stages.

Possible topics for papers include, but are not limited to:

  • The nature of narrative production in multimodal digital environments
  • Evolution of narrative forms
  • Narrative possibility among non-linear formats (i.e., databases, online archives, etc.)
  • What counts as narrative in today’s media environment
  • The agency of users in narrative production
  • The role of platforms in the production and circulation of narrative
  • Interaction, reader response, and audience participation in narrative
  • Narratives of race, gender, sexuality, and identity in digital media
  • Narrative accessibility in digital environments
  • Narrative visualization (network analysis, geospatial tools, etc.)
  • Video narratives (YouTube, Vine, and more)
  • Sequenced navigation and menu-driven choice
  • Video games and narrative
  • Fan fiction/fandom and narrative
  • Social media and narrative

We are seeking proposals of up to 250 words for 7 minute presentations to facilitate an interdisciplinary conversation on these topics.