Research Update

Hi everyone,

I am having some trouble deciding what I want to work on for the final research project in this class. Unlike some of you, I’m not working on a longer-term literary nonfiction/biography writing project, and I am pretty happy with the length of my previous project, so I don’t want to return to that. The only other thing on my radar at the moment, and I don’t know if it’s appropriate to bring here, is the writing I do in my other role as a freelance writer.

While it is one of my goals to get into writing about more literary material (book reviews, essays a la LARB, etc.), currently most of my public writing focuses on new media criticism. I am beginning to work on a critical piece that is focused on an indie game from last year called Cloud Gardens, in which you place pieces of trash around an arena. The trash makes plants grow, and your goal is to create a kind of environmental sculpture made out of plants. (I realize this probably sounds strange, but I have attached some screenshots that hopefully demonstrate what I mean.)

Basically, my interest is in writing about how this game plays with the player’s power in a way that is antithetical to normal building games, which are focused on dominating nature. Here, you are placing human-made elements in order to make nature literally overtake humanity. I am hoping to spend some time on the history of building games (i.e. Sim City, City Skylines, etc.) to determine what this game’s position on human power and relationships to nature is relative to other games like it, and what it does that other ecocritical mediums (i.e. books) can’t.

I think what I have learned is having a model to begin to incorporate facts and history into my work more naturally (a la Abdurraqib). I know not everyone is abreast of video game terminology, so I think this would be a good opportunity for me to make sure this concept and my explanation of it make sense. However, I could also see this not being the appropriate venue for this project, as it is less personal and more critical. Please let me know what you think.

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2 thoughts on “Research Update

  1. Catherine LaSota

    Hi Emily,
    I think this project sounds totally awesome and also appropriate for this class. There are definitely research and craft concerns you are bringing up here, which is what we are all trying to help each other learn about, so I think this is a rich project to bring to class.

  2. Jason Tougaw

    This sounds fascinating. I’d love to read a history of building games–and some commentary on Cloud Gardens. I think our course is a perfectly appropriate venue for this. And Abdurraqib does seem like a great model, in terms of the way he weaves history, politics, personal experience, analysis of form and content of music. That seems like it would translate well to video games. I also wonder if you want to examine gaming culture, the way he does hip hop culture.


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