Gaming the Ingress System

by Kaitlin O’Brien While I have not used any type of spoofing software to disrupt or confuse my locational data, I can understand users spoofing their locations not to have an advantage in the game, but to falsify the data records Google is collecting on behalf of Niantic Labs. Giving a corporation like Google open access to the location data being collected on one’s phone is a scary concept because by doing so, one is disclosing areas that are frequented by that person. To make a mockery of the fact that Ingress is in fact a “form of digital economic exchange—one that requires the ‘datafication’ of one’s mobility and communicative action in exchange for the gift of play” (Hulsey &...

Fidelity and Glitches

by Becky Anderson During today’s discussion, Darren asked if a customized, changed or altered NES is still an NES subsequent to the completion of various modifications and, importantly, what do these modifications do to gameplay or how do they then effect player experience? Indeed, these questions are at the crux of what I’ve been thinking about over the last couple of days relative to Turbine’s MMORPG computer game adaptation LOTRO; that is, what does transmedial adaptation do to the parent narrative, storyline or world (I’m deliberately refraining from using “original” here) from which it is derived or on which it is based? Making decisions in the adaption process based on fidelity to the source text is, in my opinion, a...

Cords and Connectivity

by Jaime Kirtz *work in progress* A preliminary search in Google Scholar for the term ‘infrastructure’ yields results from disciplinary journals in computing, communication, law, history, geography and numerous other fields. As a concept, infrastructure’s extensive reach resides in both the intangibility that allows for its flexibility, such as hierarchies of power, and its tangible implementation that quantifies or produces concrete elements like roadways and power lines. As a term, infrastructure originates in militaries and was used to describe the installation of structures, systems and operations (McCormack, 2016). Considering the original use of the term, infrastructure illustrates active elements of its use in current rhetoric that reinforce and legitimate social norms as well as the connections between these norms, governance...

Race, Gender, and Technology

By Ashlee Bird The reading and discussion of Nakamura’s piece today has raised questions regarding the idea of technology as a mode of forwarding or futuring a gender or a race of people. In her article, Nakamura relays the role that the tribe played in acquiring the Fairchild contract, and the impetus for doing so; Though cheap, plentiful workers and tax benefits helped lure electronics companies to the reservation, Navajo leadership helped push the project forward; Raymond Nakai, chairman of the Navajo Nation from 1963 to 1971, and the self-styled first “modern” Navajo leader, was instrumental in bringing Fairchild to Shiprock. He spoke fervently about the necessity of transforming the Navajo as a “modern” Indian tribe, and what better way...

Research Detours

by Bailey Kelley Several of our readings this week have talked about how technological and social development is nonlinear rather than a direct march toward “progress.” Today I was reminded that academic research similarly includes left turns, feedback loops, and hiccups. But what could be (and usually is) frustrating almost always turns out to be productive, as long as we approach research with an open mind and an expectation of detours. If I had come to this project outside of the context of this seminar, I would have limited my objects to the paratexts, or ephemera of early personal computers: user manuals, packaging, marketing materials, and journalistic sources. I could make an argument about how those kinds of texts speak...

Synthesizer-Videogame Mashups

by Aurelio Meza The showcase video Super Mario Spacetime Organ (illucia & Soundscape) by Chris Novello starts asking, “What is a video game?” We could expand the scope of this speculation and ask, “What is an instrument?” (Georgina Born and Joe Snape finish an article on MaxMSP exactly with that question). These two interrogations bring together Max, customized instruments, and video games into the discussion of devices and instrumentality. How devices are operated through a physical interface is central to this discussion. Game controllers, just like piano or computer keyboards, can be defined as boundary objects (after Susan Leigh Star)–surfaces of interaction between an instrument and its user (here I’m using the notion of instrument in a very broad sense)....

“Hacking” as a Multipurpose Term in Ingress

by Kaitlin O’Brien Based on yesterday’s lecture on platform histories that had students code bend Super Mario Bros. on the original console, I have been thinking about how similar strategies could be applied to the augmented reality game Ingress. Through my experience with code bending, I began to think about what I am more familiar with and what I view as similar to code bending and that is hacking. In many ways, Ingress is a display of “urban hacking, and the reappropriation of public space away from an indexical, purely informational, and cognitivist use of mobile computing, and toward the affective and often normatively disruptive acts of distributed storytelling” (Coleman 283). Before I can even begin to explore hacking in Ingress,...

Rom Hacking and Experiential Spatiality

By Becky Anderson Through the duration of today’s rom-hacking Super Mario Bros. workshop I kept asking myself, would this investigation into and inevitable alterations of the binary source code happen to a Tolkien-based game adaptation? I’m assuming that at some point somebody has tried. I think you could certainly modify an early heroic adventure game to reflect the epic quest line of Frodo and friends. Or, while it would take some…or perhaps a lot of work, I imagine you could even code-bend or apply a series of transformations to the Super Mario Bros. source code to reflect a Middle-earth inspired backdrop with the Super Mario Bros. game characters modified to fit those within Tolkien’s Secondary World. Perhaps I’ll consider that...

BLACKBOX / WHITEBOX

by Kyle Bickoff Over the course of Day 2 we took a close look at game cartridges—rather, we dissected cartridges. After opening up the NES cartridge we then removed the chips on the card that store the contents of the game. We then extracted the contents off the chips, transferred them via a universal controller device via USB to a laptop, merged the files, edited them, rewrote them to writeable chips and then ran our modified game on an NES. I summarize our work today because it describes a methodology that very much resists a term I’ve written on previously—that term is the black box. The black box typically refers to a system in which the data is input into...

Limitations

By Ashlee Bird Having only ever viewed the world of hacking from an extreme distance, today was nothing short of a revelation. While I mentioned in my previous blog post that I want to pursue Gitelman’s insistence on dissecting a particular medium before analyzing its contents, today’s workshop brought into perspective just how intensive that task actually is, if it is to be done with any kind of serious depth. Simply analyzing the code of Super Mario Bros. (SMB) in our attempt to change the text “Mario” to “Nerds” was not only achieved through much trial and error on our part, but had additionally been prefaced by a 30 minute intensive lecture on hexadecimals, their chronology, and the effects that...