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!

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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.

Mario Modding Madness

2015-02-03 09.24.30 pm

In case you missed it: you can watch a split-screen video presentation of my digital humanities-oriented talk, “Visualizing Digital Seriality,” which I gave last Friday, January 30, 2015, at Duke University — here (or click the image above).

More about the project can be found here.

Livestream: Visualizing Digital Seriality

2015-01-28 02.54.54 pm

According to the Duke Visualization Friday Forum website, my talk this Friday — “Visualizing Digital Seriality: Correlating Code and Community in the Super Mario Modding Scene” — will be streamed live: here.

The talk will take place at 12:00 Eastern time, Jan. 30, 2015.

Visualizing Digital Seriality / Duke Visualization Friday Forum

smb3-references

On January 30, 2015 (12:00-1:00pm), I will be speaking about visualization techniques and game-related serialization processes at the Duke Visualization Friday Forum. Organized by Eric Monson and Angela Zoss, this is a very exciting and robustly interdisciplinary venue, as the long list of sponsors for the weekly forum indicates: Information Science + Information Studies, the Duke immersive Virtual Environment (or DiVE), Media Arts + Sciences, Data and Visualization Services, the Department of Computer Science, Research Computing at the Office of Information Technology, and Visualization & Interactive Systems.

As this list indicates, the Visualization Friday Forum has the potential to take just about anyone — but especially humanities-types like me — out of their comfort zone; but it does so in the most comfortable way possible: the informal setting of a lunchtime chat fosters a type of exchange that is interdisciplinary in the best sense. Artists, computer scientists, media scholars, digital humanists, historians, literary critics, mathematicians, and researchers in the natural sciences, among others, make a genuine effort to understand one another. And, to judge from the times I have been present or watched a live-stream of the Forum, this effort is usually quite successful.

So here’s hoping that my own effort at interdisciplinary dialogue will be as successful! In my talk, I will discuss an ongoing project, some preliminary findings of which I posted not too long ago. Here’s the abstract:

Visualizing Digital Seriality: Correlating Code and Community in the Super Mario Modding Scene

Shane Denson (DAAD Postdoctoral Fellow, Duke Literature)

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 such as Tableau and Palladio help to bridge the gap between code and community, revealing otherwise invisible connections and patterns of seriality.