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Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

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Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Postby EltanimRas » Sat Jul 05, 2014 8:50 am

So, Vanderbilt University is running another session of this on Coursera: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative.

It's running July 14th through September 1st, and it uses The Lord of the Rings Online (the MMO) as its primary case study, so to speak.

The official blurb wrote:Intended for both newcomers who are curious about video games and experienced gamers who want to reflect on their passion, this course will explore what happens to stories, paintings, and films when they become the basis of massively multiplayer online games. The Lord of the Rings trilogy—the novels, films, and video game—are our central example of how “remediation” transforms familiar stories as they move across media.

The course is designed as a university-level English literature class—a multi-genre, multimedia tour of how literature, film, and games engage in the basic human activity of storytelling. Our journey will enable us to learn something about narrative theory, introduce us to some key topics in media studies and cover some of the history and theory of video games. It will also take us to some landmarks of romance literature, the neverending story that lies behind most fantasy games: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, a bit of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene, and poems by Keats, Tennyson, Browning, and others.

Drawing on centuries of romance narrative conventions, the twenty-first century gaming industry has become a creative and economic powerhouse. It engages the talents of some of our brightest writers, artists, composers, computer engineers, game theorists, video producers, and marketing professionals, and in 2012, it generated an estimated $64 billion in revenue. Anyone interested in today’s culture needs to be conversant with the ways this new medium is altering our understanding of stories. Join me as we set out on an intellectual adventure, the quest to discover the cultural heritage of online games.


Anyone want to try and siphon some new players off the course forums?

ETA: Here's the tentative syllabus.
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Re: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Postby Brian » Sat Jul 05, 2014 9:11 am

That sounds like a really clever idea, EltanimRas. Do you have in mind the angle of trying to get them to try as a comparison to the more commercialized LOTR based work they're studying, or because you figure there might be some dedicated Tolkien enthusiasts who might want to try something a little more authentic feeling?
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Re: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Postby EltanimRas » Sat Jul 05, 2014 9:32 am

Well, the sneakiest way to do it would probably be to have enough current players genuinely interested in the course to form a "Shadows of Isildur" discussion/study group on the forums ... and tempt people in that way. Actually watch the lectures, and have the 'compare and contrast' discussion rooted in the issues they cover, etc.

Taking the time to download and play LOTRO isn't required for the regular track, just for the 'distinction' one.

[Also, because the class seems to be in large part about the effect[s] of the shift in medium -- from book to movie to video game -- that SoI is fundamentally a fourth medium should make it pretty relevant.]
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Re: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Postby Frigga » Sun Jul 06, 2014 12:38 pm

Totally thinking about paying for the Verified Certificate just so I can frame it and put it on my wall somewhere. :lol:
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Re: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Postby EltanimRas » Sun Jul 06, 2014 12:41 pm

The regular (free) certificate is frame-able, too!
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Re: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Postby Hazgarn » Sun Jul 06, 2014 12:43 pm

EltanimRas wrote:Well, the sneakiest way to do it would probably be to have enough current players genuinely interested in the course to form a "Shadows of Isildur" discussion/study group on the forums ... and tempt people in that way. Actually watch the lectures, and have the 'compare and contrast' discussion rooted in the issues they cover, etc.


Consider me a +1 if we implement this brilliant guerrilla marketing scheme. :lol:
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Re: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Postby Rivean » Sun Jul 06, 2014 12:48 pm

Wait, this is a Tolkien lit class? Where's Nyneve? :P
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Re: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Postby Raukran » Sun Jul 06, 2014 2:09 pm

I've played a good bit of LOTRO if anyone needs any information about it for comparisons. I also played on an RP server, and while better than most other MMOs in terms of RP quality, it'll still never hold a candle to MUDs like SoI.
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Re: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Postby Hawkwind » Sun Jul 06, 2014 3:08 pm

On a slightly related note. What is happening here?

Image
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Re: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Postby Raukran » Sun Jul 06, 2014 3:14 pm

Hawkwind wrote:On a slightly related note. What is happening here?

Image


http://lmgtfy.com/?q=middle+earth+shadow+of+mordor&l=1
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Re: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Postby Hawkwind » Sun Jul 06, 2014 3:17 pm

Was more of a what do you all think of this? Rather than I am genuinely confused and bewildered by this game and the internet.
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Re: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Postby Raukran » Sun Jul 06, 2014 3:26 pm

Hawkwind wrote:Was more of a what do you all think of this? Rather than I am genuinely confused and bewildered by this game and the internet.


It appears to be a single player action adventure game using the standard Tolkien intellectual property rights like a bunch of other games in the past have done. I don't usually play these sorts of games myself. Also this line "In Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, the player plays as a ranger with Wraith-like abilities by the name of Talion" sort of throws me off. But, it's suppose to be a sandbox, free roam game with side quests, so that could be cool.
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Re: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Postby EltanimRas » Sat Jul 12, 2014 1:12 am

A welcome email wrote:Although the first video lectures won't be available until Monday, July 14 at 5:00 a.m., Central Daylight Time (UTC -5:00), you now can log into the home page for the course by clicking on the “Go to class” button on the course page.

There you will find the Forum pages open for your comments and questions. You will also be able to access the full Syllabus and the Course Information pages, which have detailed information about the learning objectives, the grading policy, and schedule of readings, quizzes, and assignments.
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Re: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Postby Hawkwind » Sun Jul 13, 2014 3:26 pm

Raukran wrote:
Hawkwind wrote:Was more of a what do you all think of this? Rather than I am genuinely confused and bewildered by this game and the internet.


It appears to be a single player action adventure game using the standard Tolkien intellectual property rights like a bunch of other games in the past have done. I don't usually play these sorts of games myself. Also this line "In Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, the player plays as a ranger with Wraith-like abilities by the name of Talion" sort of throws me off. But, it's suppose to be a sandbox, free roam game with side quests, so that could be cool.


Found out it is Assassins Creed with a Tolkien overlay, so much so that designers from AC2 tried to sue them for identical movements.
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Re: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Postby EltanimRas » Fri Jul 18, 2014 1:11 am

One potentially noteworthy thread already in the forums:

What other MMMORPGs do you play?
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Re: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Postby EltanimRas » Sat Jul 19, 2014 3:43 am

And another: Single Player RPGs vs MMORPGs (about narrative quality)

Also potentially relevant: What have games taught you?
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Re: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Postby jimhabegger » Fri Jul 25, 2014 7:17 am

EltanimRas wrote:Well, the sneakiest way to do it would probably be to have enough current players genuinely interested in the course to form a "Shadows of Isildur" discussion/study group on the forums ... and tempt people in that way. Actually watch the lectures, and have the 'compare and contrast' discussion rooted in the issues they cover, etc.

I'm genuinely interested. I've already thought a lot about the possibilities in role-playing games, for helping to improve the world, and I've had some discussions about it with a few people.

Has anyone started following the course, or participating in the forums?
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Re: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Postby EltanimRas » Sat Jul 26, 2014 4:09 am

I've been following the videos. I'm finding them mildly disappointing in the superficiality of their content so far, but they may pick up as we get past the introductory material.

One word of warning: if you haven't read the books, you should be prepared for spoilers. Lots of spoilers. If you haven't played LOTRO, you should expect minor questline spoilers for it too.

I've been somewhat hesitant to jump into the forums, though. Partly because I haven't really gotten properly back into SoI yet -- and am therefore not sure I'd make the best spokesperson for the game's current incarnation. Partly because the quality of my power and internet service just doesn't lend itself to my playing graphical MMOs like LOTRO. I have some familiarity with it, but, again, I'm not as well-placed to speak as others would be.

You might find some of the questions on the first peer assessment (due in a little under 2 days now) of particular interest, though, Jim:

One example wrote:Write an essay (200 to 400 words) on your impression of the social dimension of MMOs. If you've played other types of online games (shooters, RPGs, etc.), feel free to compare the nature of the social interactions you've had in these formats. Do social interactions enhance or diminish your experience of the narrative? Do you feel a bond with other players, and if so, how would you compare that relationship to others in real life?
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Re: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Postby EltanimRas » Mon Jul 28, 2014 11:49 pm

My post in the 'Other MMORPGs' thread wrote:I've tried a few of these -- WoW, EVE, LotRO, SWTOR -- but, while I can enjoy the stories embedded in individual questlines, the fundamental irrelevance of any individual character to the game (considering almost all of us complete the exact same quests, in an endless cycle of futility) and the grinding always burn me out eventually.

For serious story and character development, I find I much prefer smaller, text-based games. (My current online home is Shadows of Isildur, a Tolkien-themed, text-based roleplaying environment.)

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Re: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Postby jimhabegger » Tue Jul 29, 2014 2:54 pm

My responses to some of the survey questions:

Question 7
How do you identify your current activities?

Improving myself to help improve the world, working with neighbors to help improve community life for every person, learning to serve the best interests of communities I'm part of, learning to be a better friend to each person, learning to help rebuild ravaged communities near and far, practicing and promoting fellowship across ideological divides, learning to follow Baha'u'llah and the Universal House of Justice

Question 20
What do you hope to get out of this course?

Improve my experience in the Shadows of Isildur community

Question 35
The course is valuable for other reasons described below

I see role-playing games playing a momentous role in the transformation of society.
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Re: Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

Postby EltanimRas » Mon Aug 11, 2014 5:33 am

There's only about two weeks left till the class closes, but here's one other thread our players might have some interesting opinions on: Gender and MMORPGs

And another that may have some applicability to MUDs: Time in gaming
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