"The Videogame Text"

by ZACH WHALEN

The word 'text' in this title does double duty. First, it identifies the videogame itself as a text in the general sense: the object of study, the type of artifact which is here subjected to analysis. Second, the specific textual phenomenon which will be the focus of this presentation is, literally, videogame text that is, the design, appearance, and uses of alphanumeric characters within videogames. By situating videogame typography in an appropriate historical, cultural, and technological context, an analysis of letter and number forms and their uses on the videogame screen can yield insights into the design history and dissemination of videogame texts. Further, the aesthetic properties of videogame text are shown to be one means by which specific videogame platforms express their influence over videogame discourse. This presentation, which summarizes the major research of my dissertation, will focus on typography in early videogame systems. It will also include a demonstration of a data-mining tool developed for this purpose.

ZACH WHALEN is an Assistant Professor in the English, Linguistics and Communication Department of the University of Mary Washington. He recently completed his PhD at the University of Florida, and his collection, co-edited with Laurie N. Taylor, _Playing the Past: History and Nostalgia in Videogames_ has recently been published by the Vanderbilt University Press. He has published several journal articles and book chapters on videogames and new media studies and is currently completing a book on videogame typography.

Coming up @MITH 10/21: Kathleen Fitzpatrick, (Pomona College) "Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy."

View MITH's complete Digital Dialogues schedule here:

  • http://www.mith2.umd.edu/programs/mith_speakers_fall_2008.pdf
  • All talks free and open to the public!