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Posts Tagged ‘computer games’

Amid the constant froth of “how the internet has transformed our lives, and ohmygod the robots are coming!” chatter, it’s occasionally worth reflecting on the things that could have changed but haven’t, or haven’t much. Take the scholarly article; yes, we can all access things so much more easily (provided we have the institutional support that gives us access to JSTOR), which is generally fabulous, and it’s becoming a reflex to remember to worry about Open Access issues, at least for those us in the UK worrying about whether our publications will be able to ‘count’ for the purposes of the Research Excellence Framework hoop-jumping exercise – but the article itself hasn’t dramatically changed in decades, and nor have the journals that might publish it (even something completely online like Histos otherwise more or less replicates the format of a traditional journal). Of course this is at least partly a consequence of working in a humanities discipline; for the most part we don’t have large quantities of supporting data that isn’t accessible elsewhere, so the possibility of uploading masses of supplementary material doesn’t mean as much to us as it does to those working in other fields. (more…)

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Is there a plausible outcome in the Melian Dialogue situation in which the Melians ‘win’ in any sense? I’m starting to think about developing the second half of my “choose your own adventure” version, and obviously this is a crucial issue; is the point of the exercise that players should try every possible approach and gradually recognise the bleak reality of their fate, or that there should be a way out, however obscure and improbable? This question was actually brought into focus this week by the spectacle of Yanis Varoufakis offering advice to Theresa May on negotiating with the EU: the man who knew he was in a Melian Dialogue situation, but still tried to force it to a different outcome. Yes, that went well… (more…)

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Reenactments

It is a very long time indeed since I had the time or energy to get involved with any computer games – I think the last time was when I embarked on Final Fantasy VII as a means of bonding with my then newly-acquired stepchildren – but there are times when it seems at least a little tempting. It was always the complex strategy and administration games that appealed the most, above all my lovingly tended low-rise, high-tech and eco-friendly utopia in SimCity (its only flaw being the refusal of that version of the programme to support the creation of allotments and urban beekeeping), and so I am probably part of the target audience for Hegemony Gold: Wars of Ancient Greece, which allows you to recreate the fifth and fourth centuries BCE as the Spartans, Athenians or Macedonians. One reason why it’s especially tempting at the moment is that it’s obvious how far the designers have drawn on Thucydides, at least in the way they’re advertising it, and so I could almost claim this as a work-related activity; after all, what better test of our interpretations of Thucydides than playing out his analysis of the Peloponnesian War again and again? Maybe not; if the designers have indeed read a lot of Thucydides, it’s entirely possible that the game system – the new “diplomacy engine”, for example – is precisely calibrated so that the conventional ‘Thucydidean’ version is the optimal strategy, and so it won’t be any real test. Unless, of course, they’re political subversives, seeking to establish that the ‘might is right’ approach of the Melian Dialogue automatically leads to catastrophe, and the optimal strategy is one that respects Greek tradition and international norms. No, must stop thinking about this, I really can’t afford the time…

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