Recently, I was contacted by my old high school classmate and current faculty member at the University of King’s College, Adam Richter. It was great to see that he is doing well and I was very happy to be invited to give a guest lecture for his History of Science and Technology class. It has been quite a while since I have given a history lecture (as opposed to a communication or game studies lecture with some history incorporated into it), so I was a little nervous. Luckily, it went very well. I was happy to put together the lecture and I hope that I get the opportunity to continue to use my skills in history, historiography, and historical methods.
The guest lecture is broken into three main parts: History, Collective Memory, and Video Games. The History section gives a very brief history of the Pacific War leading up to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is followed by the Collective Memory section, which examines how the atomic bombings have been remembered in both North America and Japan. Finally, the Video Games section gives an example of how the history and collective memory of the atomic bombs is remediated into video games. For this lecture I used case studies of Valkyria Chronicles 4 (Sega, 2018) and Resident Evil 3 (Capcom, 2020).
As with most opportunities for presentations, lectures, and public talks since the beginning of the pandemic the lecture was delivered remotely (and in this case asynchronously). I still have some mixed feelings about this because I love to travel and present my research in person but I also realize that there are some benefits to the remote models as well. Not only was this an opportunity that I would have needed to turn down if it was in-person due to travel costs but it also would not have been recorded and, as a result, much harder to share widely. The lecture is now available on my YouTube channel. You can watch it here:
As a final note, I have upgraded my recording equipment and become slightly more comfortable recording since my last batch of videos. I like being able to more easily and widely share my research so I hope that I can keep recording and editing videos even as we transition back to more normal circumstances.
I have been making progress on the translation version of Nagasaki Kitty with my writing partner Dr. Mimi Okabe. We recently released the pre-order for the game in time for our conference presentation at RePlaying Japan 2021 (hosted online by the University of Alberta). In our short video submission we discuss our motivations for making the game, American historiography, and our adventures in translation (in particular the dynamics of translating “meow”). We are continuing to make progress on the game and plan to start playtesting soon.
On another, semi-related note, I have been getting more practice making videos and I think that they are becoming higher quality. Post-pandemic, when we will presumably move away from remote conferences, I think that I will continue to make video versions of my talks so that they can be more easily disseminated (especially post-conference).
I recently had my first opportunity to be interviewed about my work. I felt excited and honored that Epoch Xperience reached out to me to discuss my RPG Maker MV game Nagasaki Kitty. Epoch is a company that focuses on historical research (not only in games but also in more traditional mediums) and was interested in talking to me about the design and historical work that went into Nagasaki Kitty. Below is the full hour-plus interview where we cover everything from my academic research to how people who are interested in making their own historical games can get started.
I want to thank Mark LoProto for both organizing/recording the interview and providing me with the completed footage to present here. I should note that the lighting and video issues in the completed interview originated on my end and were the unfortunate consequence of completing the interview remotely during a lockdown. Overall I was quite happy with how the interview went and hope that I get the opportunity participate in more of these types of activities in the future.
The entire process of designing the game, playtesting, setting myself up on Itch, creating content for social media, and advertising the game is something that I want to revisit at some point. I plan on writing a full post-mortem about the entire process at a later date.
In the meantime here is the launch trailer for the game:
I was very excited to give my first game making workshop at the University of Waterloo’s Critical Media Lab.
I gave a talk as the first part of the workshop that was designed to give the students a brief background on me, my work and its theoretical underpinnings. I was pleasantly surprised with the number of insightful questions that I received during this part of the workshop. If I had let the students keep asking questions it seems like they would have taken up the entire workshop without getting to the critical making part!
After all the questions we did a group play-through of two of my games, Nagumo’s Ruin: The Battle of Midway and Nagasaki Kitty with audience members assigned as voice actors. I was also able to show off some of my work within RPG Maker MV. From here, I had the students download Twine onto their devices and provided an introduction to the tool that allowed them to start making their own games.
Overall, I had an excellent time giving my first workshop. In retrospect, I probably would have cut out the talk at the beginning and jumped right into introducing the tools. But I feel like I learned a lot about the time management of a workshop and what to expect from the students. I was very happy to hear that at least one or two of the students had started making something that they wanted to move forward with in the limited amount of time that they had to experiment with the tool. I hope they keep making games.
I would like to thank the students of the Critical Media Lab for being enthusiastic and making my first workshop such a great experience and Dr. Marcel O’Gorman for taking the time to drop in. Finally, a special shout-out to Dr. Lai-Tze Fan for the invitation, organization and support of the workshop. I appreciate you all!
I am excited to announce that I will be showing a reworked version of the first game that I ever made at an event next week!
The game, made with Twine, places the player in the role of Vice Admiral Nagumo during the Battle of Midway (4-7 June 1942). There is a full artist’s statement included for those that are curious about the influences and design choices of the game.
This is a short lecture that I had filmed after one of my classes was cancelled. It is a short examination of how video games interact with the past.
Special thanks to Marc, Courtney, Patricia and Dan for helping me with the equipment and the editing of the lecture. Also, a quick shout-out to Mia and her mLab for providing the space, equipment, and opportunity.