Game Studies (Winter 2018)


Above, a flyer for my upcoming “Game Studies” course. Below, the syllabus:


Claus Pias at Stanford

2017-10-18 09.13.03 am

Next week, media theorist Claus Pias, Professor for the Theory and History of Media at Leuphana Universität Lüneburg, will be visiting Stanford for a series of events: on Monday, October 23 (5:30 – 7:00pm), he will be delivering a public lecture titled “Between Information Aesthetics and Design Amplification,” which will be held in my home department of Art & Art History. (More info here.)

The following day, Tuesday, October 24 (11:30am – 1:00pm), he will be discussing his book Computer Game Worlds, which is newly translated into English, at a lunchtime event with the Digital Aesthetics Workshop. (See the poster below or find more info here.)

Claus Pias DAW poster

Out Now: “Visualizing Digital Seriality” in Kairos 22.1

2017-08-15 01.23.20 pm

I am excited to see my interactive piece, “Visualizing Digital Seriality, or: All Your Mods Are Belong to Us,” out now in the latest issue of Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy. This is by far the most technically demanding piece of scholarship I have ever produced, and it underwent what is possibly the most rigorous peer-review process to which any of my published articles has ever been subject. If you’re interested in data visualization, distant reading techniques, network graphing, critical code studies, game studies, modding scenes, or Super Mario Bros. (and who doesn’t like Super Mario Bros.?), check it out!

Stanford Games and Interactive Media Series (GAIMS) schedule, Spring 2017


Spring_2017_Games and Interactive Media

Above, the schedule for the Spring 2017 Games and Interactive Media Series (GAIMS) at Stanford. Among the many great speakers this quarter, we have Dennis Fong (one of the first professional gamers) and Allan Alcorn (the engineer who designed the classic Atari PONG). Check it out!

Video: Digital Seriality: Code & Community in the Super Mario Modding Scene

Above you’ll find the video of my talk, “Digital Seriality: Code & Community in the Super Mario Modding Scene,” which I delivered on September 27, 2016 as part of the Interactive Media & Games Seminar Series at Stanford University.

Here is the abstract for my talk:

Digital Seriality: Code & Community in the Super Mario Modding Scene

Shane Denson

Seriality is a common feature of game franchises, with their various sequels, spin-offs, and other forms of continuation; such serialization informs social processes of community-building among fans, while it also takes place at much lower levels in the repetition and variation that characterizes a series of game levels, for example, or in the modularized and recycled code of game engines. This presentation considers how tools and methods of digital humanities — including “distant reading” and visualization techniques — can shed light on serialization processes in digital games and gaming communities. The vibrant “modding” scene that has arisen around the classic Nintendo game Super Mario Bros. (1985) serves as a case study. Automated “reading” techniques allow us to survey a large collection of fan-based game modifications, while visualization software helps to bridge the gap between code and community, revealing otherwise invisible connections and patterns of seriality.

Playing the Photographer: Creative Self-Expression through In-Game Photography — Jason Lajoie

The Last of Us™ Remastered_20140801163128

Jason Lajoie’s abstract for the panel “Generativity and Creative Agency in Post-Cinematic Media” at SLSA 2016 in Atlanta:

Playing the Photographer: Creative Self-Expression through In-Game Photography

Jason Lajoie, University of Waterloo

The photo editor mode offered in The Last of Us Remastered (TLOUR), Naughty Dog’s 2014 Playstation 4 port of their 2013 Playstation 3 game, offers players the means to take a photo at any point in the game. This option alters and can also elevate user engagement within the game. It can also make statements about self-expression through gameplay, as notably illustrated by conflict photographer Ashley Gilbertson, who applied the same techniques he acquired in real-world conflict zones to the fictitious battlegrounds in the game, achieving his photographs by considering his situatedness as real spectator in virtual environments. From a game studies perspective, the photo editor mode enables new ways for players and designers to think about game design, and offers innovative means of expression for players to interact in a creative game space. My investigation draws on Roland Barthes’s exploration into the affective capacity of photographs, and Jose Van Dijck’s claim that the malleability and manipulability of digital photography affects the formation of identity by repurposing our memories and means of communication. What are the affective resonances of photographs on real spectators when the spectrum itself is virtual? By exploring the use of photo editor modes in TLOUR, and in other Playstation 4 titles like The Order: 1886, I consider the ways this program expands the affordances of gameplay and narrativity by providing players interactive means for creative expression in otherwise restrictive and linear game modes.