Decided to make my QGCon 2018 application public because conference apps always stress me out and I’m always curious about how other people put theirs together so I figured I should be demonstrative of the Academia I Wanna See.
Brieal is a fourth-year undergraduate honours student in the department of anthropology at Macewan University in Edmonton, Alberta. They’re interested in far too many things. Primarily, however, they’re interested in linguistic anthropology and language revitalization, archaeogaming and the people who do it, literary theory and its applications in things that aren’t English papers, and how these disparate ideas actually all make sense together (but only if you squint a bit, tilt your head to the side, and whisper “digital humanities” over and over). When they aren’t yelling their way through their degree they spending time with their shiba inu named Sushi and naps.
Ontologies of Practice: A Proto-Ontology of Queer Archaeogaming
To track the flow of information within archaeogaming I have created a proto-ontology of archaeogaming as it may be perceived through a queer interdisciplinary lens. This project works to identify potential sticking points and holes within the current practice of archaeogaming by placing practices and methodologies within the context of the potentials within queer archaeogaming. To facilitate this, I have taken terms from the bibliographies of several texts and created a series of connections between these terms and an edited Canadian Archaeological Association ethics statement. Additionally, I have taken terms from the instructional manual of an early Pokemon game to demonstrate one of the ways in which this ontology may be put into practice. The method for this project was originally designed as a mind-mapping exercise, however as it progressed it slowly became closer to an ontology in-practice. This is to be considered as a positive change, as in the form of a [proto-]ontology it may be better understood not only by people working within the archaeogaming community, but also potentially in the future by archaeogaming AIs.
This panel will consist of a short (approximately 15-20 minutes) explanation of what archaeogaming is and where this research fits into present archaeogaming practice, and is to be followed by a demonstration of archaeogaming-as-method by using the ontology to map how different resources may be labeled as queer archaeogaming (3 examples, approximately 10 minutes each).
Disclaimer: This post was written as part of my ANTH 320: Archaeology of Gender requirements in October 2016, and may or may not reflect my current assessment of the archaeogaming blog. That said I’d love to do an archaeogaming blog review in the future, which is why I’m posting my previous thoughts here today! 🙂
The blog I am choosing to review is Archaeogaming, which has been written by Andrew Reinhard since June of 2013 (Reinhard, 2016). Archaeogaming is a blog which I have been regularly reading since November of 2015 after having been introduced to the concept of archaeogaming via the Twitter account of the same name (@Archaeogaming). I have found it influential not only as a student of the social sciences and humanities, but also as a person who really just enjoys playing video games. The most prominent reason for my choosing of Archaeogaming for review beyond familiarity, however, is that I believe the blog has the opportunity to directly influence my final research paper in ANTH 320: Archaeology of Gender via focused reading into the construction of a definition of archaeogaming as practice, as well as exposure to methodology within the sub-field of archaeogaming.
The first post I decided to focus on is the “Archaeogaming Map (Revised)” (Reinhard, 2015). This post was originally published on December 18th, 2015. I chose this post as, in my opinion, it provides the clearest definition of what archaeogaming actually is as a field of practice. The intent of the post is clearly to provide a vehicle for the map itself to be presented. Reinhard explains in the blog post that the intent for the map is to perhaps act as an inspiration for those already in the field of archaeogaming, or as definition for those curious about the field. The tone of this post is very short and to the point compared to subsequent posts considered for this review. This being said this works in the favour of the content as the blog post acts only as a vehicle for the map to be presented, and allows for Reinhard to keep reader focus on the image of the map itself which is a clear description of several archaeogaming topics arranged as heading > subheading > topic (Reinhard, 2015). Additionally, the map uses an appropriate image from a secondary source (the webcomic xkcd), and the secondary source is linked to with licensing information in-post. The word, grammar, and spelling choices of the map are additionally appropriate, and in at least one instance clever (Figure 1).
The use of a spelling error in this situation not only forces the reader to pause to reconsider the thought, or re-read the line, but it is also mimetic to the “glitch as artifact” described in the line immediately above. The idea of creating a visual representation of a field of practice is not unheard of, and having the map be so detailed is ideal for an emergent field where many theories, ideas, and methodologies have either yet to be defined or yet to become standard practice. The information within the map presented appears to be accurate based on my own understanding of archaeogaming, however no explicit sources are given. This being said Reinhard makes clear in the blog post that the map is based on lived-experience, and an assumption can thus be made that the Archaeogaming blog itself is the source.
The second post which I decided to look at is “Archaeogaming’s Grand Challenges,” which was originally posted on January 25th, 2016. The introduction establishes a clear purpose, and provides tonal reference for the “Achievement Hunter”-esque (Rooster Teeth) body of the post. The purpose of the post—to define “Archaeogaming’s Grand Challenges”—is explicitly outlined in the title, and in the prompt Reinhard attributes for the post. Tonal reference is found in the use of the Xbox 360-style achievement image at the outset of the post, and subsequent explanation: “Because archaeogaming is so new (at least in the formal, academic sense), we have a number of mountains to climb, or, to keep this on-topic with video games, we have a lot of achievements to unlock” (Reinhard, 2016). The introduction additionally provides background information on the history of archaeogaming as a field of practice, and provides links to other blogs and websites on the subject. While the introduction fulfills the purpose of what the post is about, and some history on the subject, the tone isn’t consistent with the rest of the post. While Reinhard explicitly demarcates where the achievements are to begin the demarcation seems oddly placed at approximately one third of the post in, as having the image at the outset of the post makes it seem as though the entire post will have the achievement-hunting tone. Having the demarcation so late also causes pacing issues as the body of the post thus seems comparatively short to the introduction. In my opinion the post could have been improved—and had more impact—if the tone were to remain consistent, and the introduction be edited for length. This being said even the seemingly brief use of a writing tone which is mimetic to video game play is fun and appropriate considering the topic of the post being “challenges to [your] archaeology,” (Reinhard, 2016) and it works to bring the reader into a state of mind which connects both archaeology as practice and video games as subject.
The third post which I decided to look at is “Archaeology in Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition.” This post was originally published on October 25th, 2015. I chose this post as I played 2013’s Tomb Raider, and is one of only two posts which comes when using the on-site search function with the term “gender” as of October 10th, 2016. The post is a summation and analysis of the 2014 Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, which is itself an update of 2013’s Tomb Raider. The practice of reviewing games is by no means anything new, but what sets this post apart from other summaries and reviews lies in the focus of the post on archaeology. Reinhard clearly identifies archaeologists as characters, artifacts as in-game items, and archaeological methodology as game-play. In the process of identifying archaeologists as characters Reinhard also makes note of gender representation, and gender disparity within the game-space through the characters of Lara Croft and James Whitman. In focusing on characterization Reinhard notes that the gender dynamic between Croft and Whitman mirrors real-life gender dynamics in archaeological field-sites, and makes reference to the Every Dig Sexism project which “[catalogues] every day sexism in Archaeology and Heritage” (@everyDIGsexism, 2015). With reference to the in-game world and items word choices are appropriate, and work to bridge the virtual archaeological space with real-life terminology and practice. An example of this is defining the game’s use of the term “relic” as “a generic term for an artifact of interest” (Reinhard, 2015).
Images are used to positive effect, and at various points in the post. While a “note” appears at the end of the post attributing screen-captures to Reinhard there are two images which are a) not screen-captures, and b) not otherwise annotated to their original source. These images include a comparison of James Whitman, and James Wright (Figure 3) and later on a comparison of graphical output between Sony Playstation console generations (PS3 to PS4) (Figure 4).
Table 1. Archaeogaming 2016 Post Frequency
# of posts
In seeing the consistency with which Archaeogaming has maintained posting updates in 2016, with the exception of June 2016-present day (Table 1), my initial expectation in conducting a close reading was that there would be more posts which would be directly relevant to discussions on gendered archaeology and the archaeology of gender. While many of the posts may be forced to fit into a discussion on gender, few explicitly address gender as either an aspect of gaming or of archaeology. This being said in my general survey of the blog I found that the blog periodically links out to other blog posts on the subject of video games, archaeology, and archaeogaming respectively which are written by women. Of the three posts summarized here, this only occurs in “Archaeogaming’s Grand Challenges,” however. Gender is also incorporated via open comment sections. As of October 12th, 2016 the three posts summarized in this review contain open comment sections, and based on my own Euro-Western analyses of the names of the commenters all comments are made by women. Despite the concerns which I have outlined above I believe that Archaeogaming is an invaluable resource of theoretical and methodological archaeological data, albeit more generally within the field of archaeology than specifically within the scope of gendered archaeology or the archaeology of gender.
For ease of access each slide has been posted here, sans PowerPoint notes (because most of them can be found here). That said when this was presented at Animethon I had a co-panelist, CJ, who influenced both the direction and scripting of this version of the presentation. As I’m being graded for this version, however, I’ve paraphrased and edited his input to be read as more natural to my own voice and included him as a reference in my bibliography.
#Archaeogaming101 is to be a panel presentation Friday, August 11th (today!) from 14:30-15:30 in Rm 9-102 as a part of Animethon 24 at Macewan University in Edmonton, Alberta!
For ease of access each slide has been posted here, with it’s associated sources and PowerPoint notes. The notes don’t necessarily represent what is to be said verbatim (I prefer to “sparknote” my talking points, whereas CJ likes to script them out a bit more) but hopefully it gives everyone a good idea of what the panel is to contain. 🙂
Friday (April 28th) is (finally!) the Public Archaeology Twitter Conference, and I’ll be presenting a paper originally written for Dr. Katie Biittner’s (of “AnthropologyAs“) Fall 2016 course ANTH 321: Archaeology of Gender entitled “Colour Palettization as Archaeogaming Method” at 22:45BST/15:45MDT! The Public Archaeology Twitter Conference (#PATC on Twitter) was graciously organized by Lorna Richardson, and my thanks go out to her for all her organizational and administrative efforts thus far. As someone who lives with chronic illness the concept of conferences is quite fraught for me, and having this entire conference take place online takes a lot of stress off my shoulders!
Now for some ~personal~ writing meta: early on in ANTH 321 Dr. Biittner allowed for a ~research essay workshopping class~ (something which I personally find super helpful!), and in considering All The Ways gender is experienced and expressed my thoughts drifted to All The Ways gender is experienced and expressed in [specifically video] games. Having been introduced to Tara Copplestone’s “Gamingarchaeo” and Andrew Reinhardt’s “Archaeogaming” over Summer 2016 I pitched [a lot, but it boiled down to]: “Is it possible to use colour seriation (inspired by the Lego colour seriation found at “67 Years of Lego Sets“) to track one or more aspects of gendered expressions in video games through time?”
Obviously that’s a super dang ambitious question to answer, and for the sake of not burning out of the semester the questions I ended up trying to answer were: “Is palettization of video game material possible? And if possible, is it accessible? And if accessible, what are maybe some of the implications of that?” Still ambitious, but absolutely more reasonable than “I wanna use colour theory to seriate smth like Final Fantasy to see if and/or how the series is Gendered” for a four-month undergrad course.
My greatest thanks go out to Dr. Biittner for her continued support and mentorship. (Read as: “Thanks to her for being both an amazing academic and a geek, and subsequently supporting me in my proto-academic geekery.”) I’d also like to extend thanks to my Mum and Dad for putting SNES controllers in mine and my brother’s hands as kids, thus sparking our lifelong love for video games.
As “Colour Palettization as Archaeogaming Method” is currently in review with the Macewan University Student eJournal (MUSe) I’m unable to publish the full paper here, however please see below for a list of presentation figures and project bibliography: