All posts by Alex Custodio

Press START: Reflections on the Making of the Arcade Table

In the first class, we discussed media archaeology’s relationship relative to culturally-oriented and hardware-oriented academia. A project such as the construction of an arcade table or softmodding a Nintendo Wii are very much located between these two extremes, which I see as profoundly productive. During my probe on nonnarrative media, I argued that, just as it is problematic to focus solely on an object’s narrative history, it is equally problematic to read objects as entirely independent of their cultural contexts and the ways they have been narrativized. The arcade table project ultimately allows us to to think through both aspects of a cultural object simultaneously; constructing a fully operational model requires ideology, aesthetics, theory and materiality to work together, despite...

/ June 1, 2017

A Feature, not a Bug: Fractals and Video Game Glitches as Nonnarrative Media

In 1975, Benoit Mandelbrot coined the word fractal to describe an iterative curve or geometric shape that can be divided into parts that each possess the same statistical character as the whole (“Stochastic Models” 3825). Taking its etymology from the Latin fractus, meaning broken (“Fractal”), his research sought to concretize a theory of roughness—that is to say, to provide a model for describing the recursive fractioning of the Earth’s coastlines, the structure of plants and leaves, the distribution of galaxies, the biology of blood vessels, and even human recreations such as music, architecture, and the stock market (The Fractal Geometry of Nature). Mandelbrot was not alone in his interests in such patterns: Gottfried Leibniz contemplated the phenomenon of self-similar recursion...

/ May 22, 2017

When We Can’t Play, Wii Emulate: A Critical Investigation into the Politics and Uses of Softmodding a Nintendo Wii

Last February, Nintendo launched Fire Emblem Heroes, a highly anticipated mobile spin-off of the Fire Emblem series for Android and iOS. Framed as a free-to-play “catch-them-all” tactical role playing game, Fire Emblem Heroes features collectible avatars of main and supporting characters from eleven games in the canonical series, strategically offering Nintendo and Intelligent Systems an additional platform not only to advertise their upcoming installment for the 3DS but also to rekindle interest in earlier games.  While intrigued gamers can purchase the most recent 3DS titles online or at any local games store, what happens when such an audience is drawn to a character from a title that ceased to be produced decades ago? What happens when new international fans wish...

/ May 17, 2017