What are new directions in research and teaching about serious gaming? What is the current and future social impact of immersive technologies? What are emerging areas of inclusive game development? What are current directions in visualization, including (among other areas) virtual reality and text analysis?  In what ways are digital tools transforming the process of storytelling?

This LOCUS will provide a collegial forum for broadly exploring visualization, gaming, and digital storytelling. We encourage wide participation from scholars in any discipline to share developments in their research at any stage (including brainstorming, works in progress, and/or fully developed projects). 

The fall LOCUS event is scheduled for Thursday, November 21st, 12:00-2:00 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab Flex Space of the MSU Main Library. We look forward to seeing you there!


12:00-12:30: Networking and Discussion, moderated by Beth LaPensee
12:30-1:00: 7 Minute Presentations:

  • “What just happened?!” Digital Storytelling, Level 101, and the 2019 Summer Data Visualization Institute, Justin Wigard
  • Providing Choice and Control for Those with Difficulty Hearing in a 360 Video Environment, Max Evjen
  • Notes on Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility from the MSU Game Studies Guild, Jonah Magar

1:00-1:15: Questions and Discussion, moderated by Beth LaPensee
1:15-1:45: 7 Minute Presentations:

  • Visualizing Poetic Meter in South Asian Languages, Sean Pue
  • Science On a Sphere: A Technology for Digital Storytelling, Visualization, and Gaming Too?, Denice Blair
  • Knowing Queer Bodies Across Digital Media and Literary Genres, Nicole McCleese

1:45-2:00: Questions and Discussion/Wrap Up, moderated by Kristen Mapes


“What just happened?!” Digital Storytelling, Level 101, and the 2019 Summer Data Visualization Institute

Justin Wigard

My dissertation, Level 101: A Video Game About Video Games, is a serious game that explores, explains, and interrogates the video game medium along three distinct paths: video game history, design, and theory. Last winter, I was able to present prototypes of this work at the 2018 DH Mini-LOCUS on Narrative. The overall aim is to provide an update on this work through a specific focus: switching digital storytelling platforms.

I first began this project using Twine, a digital narrative program with a low barrier of entry (read: little-to-no programming experience required). However, Twine is not a program primed for the levels of interactivity and play necessary for the critical aims of my project. This meant that I needed to make a switch to Unity. In comparison to Twine, Unity is a powerful game development program with a much higher barrier of entry (C# knowledge recommended, but not required).

Thus, this presentation explores the progress of Level 101 since last year, and particularly highlights the lessons to be learned by the trials & tribulations (and occasional success) I encountered in moving from one digital storytelling platform, Twine, to another, Unity. I end by speaking about my experiences at the 2019 Summer Data Visualization Institute, where I learned more about Unity as a digital storytelling program, particularly with regards to Virtual Reality and the future of this project.

Providing Choice and Control for Those with Difficulty Hearing in a 360 Video Environment

Max Evjen

360 degree video is a spectacular visualization tool, but provides difficulty for those with difficulty hearing when there is narration since captions are not an easy option. Where does one place captions in the 360 degree video when elements of the video appear all around the 360 degree space at random times? The MSU Museum and Digital Scholarship Lab at the MSU Libraries created slides that auto advance in concert with narration that can be presented on any device (in our case on an iPad) in the World War One in Vauqois 360 degree video. This provides viewers with difficulty hearing choice and control for where they want to look, while still being able to follow narration.

Notes on Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility from the MSU Game Studies Guild

Jonah Magar

This presentation would recount and expand on conversations we have had at Game Studies Guild Critical Let’s Play events (which couple live-streamed gameplay with presentation and discussion of associated themes) to describe issues in diversity, inclusion, and accessibility within the video game industry.

Since its inception in 2017, the majority of the guild’s membership has identified as LGBTQ+, and many of our discussions have touched or centered on topics such as identity, gatekeeping, and other cultural topics in games and gaming communities. While members have not been particularly diverse in terms of national origin, we do consider (and in some cases, specifically study) products of international origin and significance.

In addition to the types of diversity and inclusion mentioned above, we often comment on accessibility, noting how well or poorly it may have been executed in each game we play, which elements of games/platforms help or hinder access for different types of individuals, and opportunities we see for championing accessibility for game makers, game players, and the connective systems between them.

We would be happy to focus broadly or narrowly depending on the assemblage of presenters or suggestions from the organizers.

Visualizing Poetic Meter in South Asian Languages

A. Sean Pue, Ahmad Atta, Rajiv Ranjan

The explication of poetic meter in the modern languages of South Asia is a source of consternation even for experienced poets. Poets competent in established meters have difficult articulating them, and less familiar readers or listeners have difficulty learning them. The trouble is that the traditional prosodic systems do not align well with the phonological features of modern South Asian languages. Modern scholars have offered alternative ways to think of meter. We augment that work by presenting an interactive web-based software package under development to visualize poetic meter using directed graphs that accommodate multiple languages and scripts to make accessible poetic knowledge for readers, scholars, and poets.

Science On a Sphere: A Technology for Digital Storytelling, Visualization, and Gaming Too?

Denice Blair and Nick Vanacker

Science on a Sphere (SOS) was just installed at the MSU Museum (the University’s museum of science and culture). MSU is now one of 160 sites around the globe with SOS. Students and instructional staff will have access to facilitated programs and lab times beginning in January 2020. SOS is a 54″ animated globe that allows users to explore earth sciences and other natural and social phenomena (https://sos.noaa.gov/What_is_SOS/). Developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the SOS system comes with hundreds of datasets and animations ready to use for instruction and exploration. This large-scale digital learning technology is well suited for different types of storytelling and data representation and has potential to be used for game development. This session will describe SOS as a learning and teaching technology and invite input on how participants envision using this exciting new tool, particularly for gaming, which is only just starting to be explored by SOS sites and software developers.

Knowing Queer Bodies Across Digital Media and Literary Genres

Nicole McCleese

In the lightning talk, I reflect on teaching the video essay in literary studies as a technology for knowing queer bodies, socally engaged DH pedagogy, feminist collaboration, and queer failure. I discuss two examples of the undergraduate student video essays, on “Femme” and “Passing,” which engage critical discussions of race, sexuality, and gender through their projects’ intersectional, comparative analysis of queer media and literature. These video essays not only analyze queer media in content; they also capture an aspect of their identity through their choices and digital storytelling. In the course, our engagement with the huamnities through critical work on queer media in the video essay is informed by our course readings in black queer studies–such as, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Samuel Delany, and L. H. Stallings’s Funk the Erotic: Transaesthetics and Black Sexual Culture–and comes from a desire to use DH for collaborative feminist pedagogies and to situate the digital turn in undergraduate education in literary studies for the purposes of social change. One learning objective of this assignment, the digital keywords video essay, is to use socially engaged DH for a comparative analysis of keywords on queerness in gender and sexuality in popular media and literature.