9 June 2023

This year for the Canadian Game Studies Association Annual Conference I was able to work with my good friend and colleague, Scott DeJong. Scott does some really amazing work on disinformation while also designing board games (find his game, Lizards and Lies here: https://www.lizardsandlies.ca/). Naturally, as educational game designers, there are overlaps in our research and development activities. In particular, we have found that many educational games do not take full advantage of the unique affordances of board games and/or video games as a medium. As a result, we made a short video about our design experiences and how we deal with this (and similar) issues.

Discussing these ideas and later making the video with Scott was an amazing experience. At this point we consider the ideas to be in their early stages, but we hope to revisit this project soon and make a more polished version. Hopefully we will put something more together soon because these are ideas that I am interested in pursuing further.

25 August 2022

I have been very excited to start a new, large-scale research project after completing my PhD and Post Doctoral Fellowship. While I am not at the point where I want to reveal the full scale of my research plan, I can say that I plan for it to include both traditional research and a new game project. As a first component of my project I have been engaging in research about Japanese Yōkai. I was excited to present the earliest parts of this research at the Replaying Japan 2022 conference (which used a hybrid model and was hosted by Ritsumeikan University).

This video examines Nioh 2 and its value as a cross-cultural learning tool. The video was inspired by my own experiences playing Nioh 2 before engaging in more formal Yōkai research afterwards. I found that many of the depictions of Yōkai were based upon traditional sources in both physical appearance and, in many regards, to how the player interacted with enemies during gameplay. This led me to think more deeply about the game as a cross-cultural teaching tool and, eventually, resulted in this video.

This was my most elaborate video project yet and took the most time to put together. This was mainly caused by my decision to synchronize the gameplay footage with the audio recording. I think that it makes for a better video but I may not have the luxury of editing a video like this again. Quite simply, it took a lot of time to capture the video, create transitions, take still photos of the art discussed, record the audio, and edit everything together. That said, I’m proud of how it turned out!

22 March 2022

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.

10 March 2021

Teaching, running workshops, and giving guest lectures have become much more complicated given the ongoing pandemic but I was very happy to be invited to speak to the students of Dr. Mimi Okabe’s Japanese translation class at the University of Alberta.

Typically I like to give a more hands-on experience to the students but I think that I was able to put together a compelling and (somewhat) interactive experience for the students. For the lecture portion, I introduced my research and how it connects to game making before shifting to the workshop element where I screen-shared via Zoom and gave a brief tour of RPG Maker MV.

A Screenshot of the RPG Maker MV designer interface. My game, Nagasaki Kitty, is currently loaded as an example for the students.

Given that this was a translation class, my primary focus was to show the students how dialogue and text are inserted into a game and the particular issues that they would need to be mindful of when translating a video game. For example, video game translators need to be particularly mindful of their development tools when they engage in translation. In the case of RPG Maker MV, there are strict character limitations for text. If the translator ignores these, then the software will not be able to display the text correctly. This means that translators must make sure that they accurately translate the text while also limiting themselves to the strict character limit imposed by the design software.

A sample RPG Maker MV dialogue box from Nagasaki Kitty. If the game designer types any text to the right of the line it will not display correctly and the player will not be able to read the full text when they are playing the game.

My combination guest lecture and workshop concluded with a question/answer period. Dr. Okabe asked her students to prepare questions for me beforehand so that I could incorporate answers into my talk as best as possible. This was a wonderful idea that helped me to structure my talk and led to more in-depth questions from the students during the question/answer time. It is a strategy that I will implement in the future (both as a guest speaker or when I invite guest speakers myself).

Overall, I had a great time talking about video game tools and the intricacies of translation. I am planning some projects around these ideas for the near future. For now, I would like to thank Dr. Okabe for the invitation and the students of her class for their insightful questions.

13 November 2019

I was very excited to give my first game making workshop at the University of Waterloo’s Critical Media Lab.

The Event Poster

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!

A slide from my talk used to help describe how I turn historiography into video games.

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.

The title slide of Nagasaki Kitty. This was the first time that I used audience members as voice actors in a play-test but I think I will keep doing it in the future. It was great.

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!

5 October 2018

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.