Blog Re-organization for Online Teaching

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Ian here—

Just a quick heads-up that I’m doing some minor re-organization to this blog in response to the shift to remote learning this quarter at U Chicago. It’s not exactly unusual to see student posts on this blog, but now they’ll be accompanied by a swath of asynchronous video lectures I’ve been putting together. It’s going to be a real firehose of activity, making up for a dry spell over here since December.

If you’d just like to see the usual announcements about general-audience video essays and things like that, click the helpful “Posts by Ian” tab to clear out the online teaching material.

HER STORY Complete Transcript

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Ian here, cooped up during the shelter-in-place order and busy prepping for this quarter’s classes.

So I did that thing again, where I’m preparing to teach and/or critically analyze a game, make a guide for myself, and I figure I might as well put it online for public consumption. This time, it’s a complete transcript of all of the video assets in HER STORY, Sam Barlow’s 2015 full-motion video adventure that plays devious games with its script, before it ever adopted video format.

If you’ve ever wanted to fill in a pesky block in the HER STORY‘s in-game Database Checker while chasing the “Detective Chief Inspector” achievement, this guide is for you. As for me, it will be a course tool when I teach the game again this quarter, and it forms the research backbone of my next video essay.

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Too Rigged to Fail

A belated third entry in my video series on detective games. The pace of these has been slow, but I’m going to have to step it up, as these are intimately related to course prep for a course I’m teaching in the Spring term of 2020.

Script below the jump.

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Macpocalypse

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Ian here—

For years now, I’ve wanted to update the section of my site devoted to games that can be easily integrated into syllabi. I was laying low until the firehose of my students’ work turned off, but I figured since I’m teaching another games-related course in Spring 2020 it would be a good time to return to the subject.

Unfortunately, the past few months have brought with them a significant new hurdle.

By now it’s old news that Chrome will be dropping Flash compatibility in December 2020. I’ve seen the pop-up, and I’ve gradually made peace with the fact that games like LonelinessProblem Attic, and The Artist Is Present won’t be accessible to students in the future. It’s a major loss for free, platform-agnostic games that could be easily assigned. But with the release of macOS Catalina in October, with its 64-bit requirements for all applications, I’m now forced to grapple with the fact that Mac, as a platform, is all of a sudden much less friendly to indie games than it had been for much of the past decade.

I’ve seen a few guides online to what is and isn’t broken by the strict 64-bit requirements of Catalina, but most of them are light on indie games (especially non-Steam indie games). So I went ahead and personally checked all of the games listed in my “practical pedagogical notes” section, and all of the games from my “games of the decade” list (including the honorable mentions). I’ve also added things that I’ve written about, included in a video, or done a capsule review of. Below the fold you’ll find a list of 32-bit games that no longer function on macOS Catalina. I’ll update the list as I test more, or if developers get around to updating them.

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Animation as a Tool for Expression: Examining the Original and Live Action Lion King

By Charlie Donnelly

Prominent film theorists and filmmakers disagree about the role of animation in cinema, with the philosopher Stanley Cavell claiming that “cartoons are not movies” (Frank 24), a stark contrast with educator Hannah Frank’s conjecture that “all works of celluloid animation [are] photographic in origin” (Frank 23). While we’ve discussed the role of animation in cinema in class with varying opinions, there are certainly instances when animation possesses an expressive quality lacking in traditional photographic cinema, especially seen in the differences between the original 1994 animated version of The Lion King and the 2019 live action remake. Although some feel that live action possesses the most varied capabilities as a mode of cinema, I will argue that animation has unique powers of expression in creating vivid and recognizable characters, establishing connotation and theme, as well as creating heavily stylized worlds with their own distinct visual iconography.

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Inside Bresson’s Truth – Cinematic Life In A Man Escaped (1956)

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by Ben Ratchford

It is often said of Bresson that his films, through their mechanical nature, their minimalist approach to their presentation of human emotion and experience, portray more passion and depth than could be achieved by “showier” directors. Bresson  expresses this as one of his goals in filmmaking in an interview from 1973.

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