81 Chapters
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Medium 9780253014993

10. Yes Wii Can or Can Wii? Theorizing the Possibilities of Video Games as Health Disparity Intervention

Thomas P Oates Indiana University Press ePub

David J. Leonard, Sarah Ullrich-French, and Thomas G. Power

THE DEBATE ABOUT EXERGAMING OFTEN APPEARS IN headlines such as “Can Wii Games Replace Regular Exercise?” and “Is the Wii Fit Better than Regular Exercise?”1 In this regard, virtual gaming has been reduced to a binary, a mathematical formula that treats participants as universal subjects and analyzes how well the games transport those bodies into virtual space. It reflects on whether these games have real-life impact on the universal game subject and how these virtual activities compare to their real-life brethren. Take one study from the American Council on Exercise, which after testing sixteen participants on six of Wii’s most challenging games – Free Run, Island Run, Free Step, Advanced Step, Super Hula Hoop, and Rhythm Boxing – concluded that virtual reality was distinctively different from the real world, in that twice as many calories were burned with the real “thing.” Emblematic of much of the discourse, the adherence to the virtual-real binary and its conceptualization of all participants as having equal access and opportunity demonstrate the shortcomings of the discourse surrounding virtual exercise.2 Furthering the establishment of this dualistic framework, the discourse focuses on the caloric impact–energy expenditure rates of virtual exercise games; it works to understand if exergaming is a substitute for real-world exercise. Yet there has been little effort to measure the impact of games on the physical body (core strength, balance) and, more important, the impact of games on identity, knowledge about fitness, health, and nutrition. In the end, these studies, more than the games themselves, disembody people and fail to look at how games change people in a myriad of ways, from the physical to the mental, from identity to self-worth.

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7. Keeping It Real: Sports Video Game Advertising and the Fan-Consumer

Thomas P Oates Indiana University Press ePub

Cory Hillman and Michael L. Butterworth

IN THE UNITED STATES, FEW, IF ANY, CULTURAL ACTIVITIES, products, or experiences are immune to the often unrestrained hands of commercialism, marketing, and advertising in the ambitious and overzealous pursuit of audiences and consumers. Sports are especially subject to these conditions, evidenced by the following examples: advertisers spent approximately $10.9 billion on national sports broadcasts between the final quarter of 2010 through September 2011; NBC paid the International Olympic Committee $2.2 billion to broadcast the 2010 and 2012 Winter and Summer Olympics; CBS and Turner Broadcasting agreed to pay nearly $11 billion to the NCAA for the rights to the annual men’s college basketball tournament. Divisional realignment in college football has also been stimulated by the desire to create “megaconferences” in the chase for lucrative television packages with major networks, and the NCAA’s decision to determine its national champion of college football’s Football Bowl Subdivision with a four-team playoff beginning in 2014 came with estimates that the tournament could be worth as much as $6 billion.1 Meanwhile, fans spent $3.2 billion on Major League Baseball (MLB) team merchandise in 2011, marking an 8.1 percent increase from the previous season, and the typical NFL fan spends approximately $60 on apparel, snacks, and other merchandise during the week of the Super Bowl.2

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Have you enjoyed spending time at this preserve?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

Under the October sun, this stretch of shorefront looks like Anyplace, Maine. The rocks push out into water that might be a river, might be a bay. The trees glow pleasantly against the blue, the air is clear, and the light is bright. This photo could have been taken anywhere. But these 500 acres are actually quite unique, making for a piece of rarefied real estate with so many fine features that not one, not two, but four different state and local agencies banded together in 1989 to preserve it in perpetuity. This is, in fact, a headland on one of the midcoast’s more important (and multisyllabic) rivers, and it attracted the attention of preservationists for a number of reasons. There is more than eight thousand feet of river frontage here, with pocket sand and pebble beaches; there are old-growth trees along with several notable plant communities; there are native shell middens; and the remains of a brickyard that turned out building blocks in the late nineteenth century. These days the local economy runs on oyster farming, commuting (to the larger Route 1 towns), retirement communities, health care, and tourism. The Bureau of Parks and Lands manages this park for “hiking, clamming, worming, skiing, swimming, nature study, habitat management, and forestry demonstration.” Which is a long-winded way of saying that people like to recreate here. On days like the one pictured here, it’s foliage that provides the draw, and there is plenty of it in this former State of Maine Tree Farm of the Year (1978). See page 101 to learn its location.

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Have you seen this church in the woods?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

This graceful church has witnessed its share of drama. The Congregational meetinghouse sits across from the local historical society’s headquarters at the head of Main Street in this western mountain community of roughly 2,000, and it’s been home to the usual fiery sermons, somber funerals, and jubilant weddings. But it’s also seen four major fires tear through town in the span of a hundred years, the most devastating — one that singed the face of the church — taking place in 1971. Both the church and the community recovered, and a couple decades later, the old house of worship finally received the clock it had been waiting for since 1835, when the bell tower was built with circular openings where a clock should be. The town figured it would be able to install a proper timepiece a few years down the line as the community grew and prospered. Beautiful and pleasant though it may be — sitting astride a well-known river in the shadow of well-known mountains — the town never did get to the point where it could complete the project. But after more than 150 years of looking at the blank steeple, townspeople decided the time had come to rectify the situation. In 1991, after a year of bake sales and bean suppers, T-shirts sales and Monte Carlo nights, a classic 700-pound Seth Thomas clock was installed, adding a bit of temporal order to Main Street. One observer called the mighty fund-raising effort “perhaps the biggest thing that ever hit the town.” (Actually, the biggest thing would probably be the fire of 1971.) The church has certainly seen a lot. Maybe you’ve seen the church? Check page 99.

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Have you ever driven over this bridge?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

Surrounded by a panorama of leaves that seem almost enthusiastic in their glow, and suspended far above one of the state’s most powerful rivers, this bridge neatly frames the antique steeples and spires of a white-clapboarded Yankee village, seemingly embraced by the forest. It’s a scene not easily forgotten — but it looks a little different today. Although the lofty span may seem infinite to gephyrophobes, it’s only the state’s sixth longest, on a well-traveled interstate route not far from the city that calls itself the gateway to the North Woods, and a stone’s throw from one of Maine’s most historic sites. Perhaps you stopped in this small, photogenic community of five thousand for a night or two at the town’s venerable inn? If so, you were in good company, historically speaking. The hostelry is one of the nation’s oldest, with a guest register that has been signed by a host of key figures in the history of the United States — Presidents Jackson, Tyler, Van Buren, and Harrison, as well as Jefferson Davis and Daniel Webster — most of whom came to the area to settle a border dispute with the British. Things were tense again a few years ago, when a small grassroots group stared down and ran out of town a corporation bent on building an enormous coal-fired power plant. There is already a pair of imposing smokestacks on the skyline here; the townspeople made it clear they didn’t want any others. The paper mill at the base of one of those stacks — and the river that flows beside it — provide the economic backbone for the community and many of its neighbors. Look for this view today, of course, and you’ll have a tough time. An equally impressive connector runs through here now — but this stately span remains. See page 101.

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Medium 9780253017154

7. Chris Grant: Games and Press

David S. Heineman Indiana University Press ePub

ALONG WITH FORECASTS OF INCREASED DIRECT DEMOCRACY and a migration to virtual global currencies, one of the frequent predictions made by many of the early Internet prognosticators was that narrowly targeted news feeds would become the standard form of gaining information for those connected to the Internet. Specifically, many of them suggested that people would be able to find news that was specific to (and exclusionary from) particular geographic locations, particular ideological interests, or particular hobbyist pursuits. These targeted audiences would form communities and cultures around the news sites that appealed to them, creating a kind of feedback loop that kept the audience fixed and isolated. In the past twenty years of online journalism, some of this has indeed taken place. One of the best case studies for how it has occurred is unquestionably that of video game journalism.

Gaming journalism, popularized in the 1980s and early 1990s by thinly veiled adverti-zines such as Nintendo Power and Sega Visions and in youth-focused publications such as Gamepro (and, to a lesser extent, Electronic Gaming Monthly) joined much of the rest of the magazine industry in undergoing a significant sea change when the Internet gained in popularity in the mid- to late 1990s. In many ways, games journalism grew up with the medium it covered. As game publishers started creating more games meant to retain their aging player base, introduced a ratings system to make the content more palatable to parents, and started pushing toward multimedia, gaming journalism followed suit with more organized and focused writing, more objective and regular reviews, and more features that responded to the rapid pace of change in the industry.

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Medium 9780253012531

7. Hardcore Christian Gamers: How Religion Shapes Evangelical Play · Shanny Luft

HEIDI CAMPBELL Indiana University Press ePub

Shanny Luft

ON THE WEBSITE HARDCORE CHRISTIAN GAMER (HCG), EVANgelicals share their faith as they deliberate over their favorite video games.1 Their religiosity is overt. Members engage in online Bible study, post prayer requests, and share spiritual testimonies with one another. For example, in a discussion forum designated for sharing spiritual testimony, someone wrote of contemplating suicide before finding spiritual and community support in a church. Someone else shared witnessing a church member’s broken leg healed through prayer, and yet another described his spiritual struggle upon learning his brother was gay. Alongside these sincere and personal testimonies of faith, members of HCG converse about their favorite video games, including action games like Assassin’s Creed (Ubisoft, 2007–), role-playing games like Elder Scrolls (Bethesda Softworks, 1994), and first-person military shooters like Halo (Bungie, 2001–2010; 343 Industries, 2011–) and Call of Duty (Activision, 2003–). What many, although not all, of the games discussed on these forums have in common is their overt depictions of violence. In Assassin’s Creed II, for example, the player controls an assassin slaughtering his way through sixteenth-century Italy, dispatching enemies by thrusting swords into their backs, plunging knives through heads, burying axes in skulls, slitting throats, and jamming spears into the spines of his adversaries.

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8. Edward Castronova: Games, Economics, and Policies

David S. Heineman Indiana University Press ePub

EDWARD CASTRONOVA BEGINS HIS BOOK EXODUS TO THE Virtual World with a discussion of Star Trek’s holodeck that, at first glance, seems very similar to Eugene Jarvis’s discussion of that fictional technology in chapter 3 of this book. Castronova explains that it is a “perfect simulation room” that “allows users to enter into a deeply accurate simulation of any environment, from the Wild West to the surface of Pluto” (3). He begins that book with a discussion of the holodeck because, like Jarvis, he sees in it a model for where games might go and what they might do to and for the people who play them. Castronova’s perspective, however, offers a kind of cautionary reply to Jarvis’s enthusiasm. If the holodeck was ubiquitous, he offers, “no starship would do anything at all” (3). Instead, there would be a dramatic shift in what people did with their time, where they did these things, and what the value of that time was considered to be. Simulation, in the form of games, would introduce dramatic social change.

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11. Ian Bogost: Anxieties, Procedures, and Game Studies

David S. Heineman Indiana University Press ePub

IN LATE 2012, IAN BOGOST PRESENTED A PUBLIC LECTURE AND exhibited some of his work at the University of North Florida’s Museum of Contemporary Art. The museum’s director, Marcelle Polednik, in a press release advertising the event, described Bogost as “one of the foremost scholars and designers of games and game theory. . . . [His work is used to] both reflect on and deploy the media of today to highlight timely topics and issues to a wider audience.” Most who have had occasion to read Bogost’s writing or listen to him speak would probably recognize that, in Polednik’s description, there is a lot of truth. Bogost’s work is widely read and cited both inside and outside academic circles, he is a coeditor of an influential series in game studies (MIT Press’s Platform Studies series), and he has produced thought-provoking video games that model how we might think about design itself as a kind of critical practice.

Bogost often discusses the subjects he critiques – games, academia, business, and so on – with a pervasive cynicism and a seemingly entrenched skepticism. His work tends to favor clarity and directness over hyperbole and obfuscation, a characteristic that makes it hard to believe he would be comfortable accepting the kinds of accolades that Polednik’s statement ascribes to him. In the interview in this chapter, for example, he is somewhat blasé about the success he has had in a relatively short period of time, suggesting that “someone would have made similar observations at that time if it hadn’t been me.”

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Can you identify this light and its island home?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

It may look stunningly scenic at this island outpost on a sunny winter’s day, but there are many challenges to face when you live thirteen miles out in the cold North Atlantic. Like cutting your way into your house with an ax. That’s how thick the ice gets at this twenty-foot tower, according to one of the more recent residents of the keeper’s house. In this community of 1,235 midcoast Mainers, the town manager is also the lightkeeper and thus resident of this 1857 home. Ice was just one problem the former town official faced when she assumed her post a few years back. What took more getting used to was the foghorn. “I thought I was being attacked by God knows what,” she told the Portland Press Herald. The light here was built shortly before the Civil War under the order of President Andrew Jackson to protect the western end of the island’s famous channel. The salty thoroughfare was essential for passenger vessels, for fishermen, and for the merchant ships taking granite out to the world. The stone went into the construction of all sorts of United States landmarks, from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Washington Monument. In fact, if you live on the East Coast, you’ve almost certainly walked on granite that came from this eight-mile isle, kept safe by generations of lightkeepers. Turn to page 100 if you think you can identify this light and its landmass.

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Have you ever hopped the ferry to this island?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

Ah, the holidays on Long Island. That’s the former name of this lengthy isle in the middle of the state’s coast, and it couldn’t be any more apt — the skinny island splits one of Maine’s largest bays in half, stretching for ten miles. The ferry taking islanders three miles across the water to the mainland looks cold this time of year, even under the sunniest of skies. The village not far from this landing has been home to an exclusive summer colony since it was “discovered” by Jeffrey Brackett, a trend-setting Bostonian, in 1889. He was followed by the likes of J.P. Morgan and some of the biggest names in American industry. In more recent years Hollywood has found it. You don’t have to be one of the Hardy Boys to figure out what Cheers the rich and famous about the place: She’s So Lovely. The year-round residents (who number six hundred, according to the most recent census) tend to go about their business and leave the celebrities alone, building boats, working carpentry, or commuting to jobs on the mainland, boarding the ferry in the shadow of this square brick tower. The lighthouse was ordered built by President Franklin Pierce in 1851, and it was redone under command of Ulysses S. Grant in 1874, which was about the time the largest shipping fleet in the bay was working out of the island’s harbors. At the lightkeeper’s house is a small museum where you can learn about this sort of thing — in the summertime, of course. For now you’ll just have to content yourself with the views. To learn more about this festive island, turn to page 99.

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Have you flown over this island community?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

A brilliant, sunny day in midwinter is cause for celebration in this small Penobscot Bay village. Much of the town is open and exposed to the unforgiving Atlantic, and in the cold and dark months the world beyond the bay seems very far away. Ice and snow hamper transportation, and with plummeting temperatures, lobstering, the principal occupation of the community, becomes even more arduous. Yet, somehow fishermen here still manage to bring home a lobster harvest that is among the largest in New England. But when the weather is disagreeable, simply getting to Rockland, fifteen miles away, to do some shopping, can be an ordeal. The harshness of winter fosters a sturdy neighborliness in town, a unity that some of the five thousand summer visitors who quadruple the year-round population each summer might even call insular. Residents of this particular spot — known locally as “the rock” — have a reputation as a hardy lot, as tough as the granite their forebears extracted from turn-of-the-twentieth-century quarries, especially in contrast to their nearest neighbors, a haven of affluent summercators to the north. The town was named for the man most responsible for its incorporation in 1789, but in recent years it’s been artists such as Robert Indiana who have put the place on the map. Indiana is one of a small colony of artists who have come to town to paint the pointed firs and the hyperactive surf. Though this view isn’t the typical postcard panorama — it’s unusually expansive and maybe even a bit misleading — it does provide a slew of clues. Can you spot them? The answer is on page 100.

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Ever been to this Maine castle?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

Quakers and guns, this place has seen it all. With its wide lawn, towers, and fortresslike façade, this central Maine institution has a medieval air about it. It looks as though it could withstand a catapult siege. That’s the first of many ironies about the building, which sits in a village between two of Maine’s largest cities. Though it appears rugged and defensible, the peculiar-looking edifice’s history is rooted in nonviolence. A group of Quakers migrated to this quiet farming community from New York state shortly after the American Revolution, and built a seminary on these grounds in 1848. They built their new school on 330 acres, amid a grove of oaks and overlooking one of the state’s largest rivers, and to this day have an active church in town. Those buildings are long since gone, and in the twenties or thirties, the Tudor-style castle shown here was put up in their place. For the better part of 150 years it was an educational center. It served as a girls academy for a long time, and later became a co-ed, college-prep boarding school. The campus was occupied until 1989, when the school went under and the facility was subsequently purchased by the state and then left vacant for a decade. In 2000, after extensive renovations, it reopened as an academy of a different sort. The property’s Quaker history has proved a bit problematic for this new educational institution, though, because the new school wanted to use guns on the grounds and the Quaker family who donated nearby land to the previous tenant did so under a provision that specifically forbade firearms. The situation has been tricky, but it looks to be sorted out. Check page 100 to see its location.

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Can you identify this snowy scene?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

Views like this are not easy to find in southern Maine anymore. A weathered dock, a graying boathouse, a curve of undeveloped shoreline — this scene looks much the way it might have fifty years ago. The same can’t be said about this particular community, now synonymous with shopping and trading. In fact, open space is at a premium in this, the oldest incorporated town in Maine, which is why conservationists are working hard to preserve what remains. The local land trust got some good news recently, when a generous resident helped it acquire sixteen acres of prime real estate along this saltwater stream — at two thousand feet long, it’s the longest undeveloped riverside property in town. You’ll have to drive around the notorious tangle of streets to find it, but lots of people do, searching for one of the best lobster shacks in Maine (in the judgment of Travel & Leisure magazine and others). Here’s a hint: the popular seafood restaurant is named after this tidal waterway. Turn to page 99 to identify this snowy scene.

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Can you guess the name of this cunning harbor?

Andrew Vietze Down East Books ePub

You’re thinking, Cutler, perhaps? Or Corea? Some tiny, isolated fishing village Down East? Not even close. Though this harbor — more of an inlet really — has all the hallmarks of a salty hamlet east of Ellsworth, it’s actually near the mouth of a wide river that empties into Casco Bay. Reached by one of the many roads that wander pleasantly south from Route 1 in the midcoast, paralleling tidal rivers, quiet marshes, and undisturbed coves, the village hasn’t seen the tourist and summer-home development that has spread across its neighboring peninsulas — at least not on the same scale. The boats of lobstermen and deep-sea fishermen outnumber pleasure craft here, though a few fair-weather residents favor the harbor, too. (When she wasn’t meeting with President Eisenhower in the White House or staring down Joe McCarthy, Margaret Chase Smith could be found at her summer place on a secluded point in the village.) The name of the harbor is resonant and oddly familiar, but most never find their way here, and those who do know the community often know it from the water — everything is oriented toward the mouth of the river. In this respect it’s almost insular, and indeed it technically sits on an island. The acreage that was settled and became this community was purchased from the Natives in 1659 by Colonel Shapleigh of Kittery, and by 1733 the cunning harbor pictured here was settled by the gentleman for whom it’s named. It’s remained relatively quiet ever since, even though the village is separated from pulsing Route 1 by a mere five miles. But what a difference those miles make. Turn to page 98 to identify this location.

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