Mount & Blade: Warband Part Two

Hello! And welcome to another exciting adventure of …. me trying to work out how to use methodology. When we last saw our hero, I was trying to organise my ethics application which is now (finally!) about to be submitted and I can get onto my literature review and methodology chapter.

While some methodology I’m using is pretty easy, auto-ethnography, fan studies/cyberethnography (think, reading forums or blog posts where fan discussions are had), what I’m doing with these videos is really taking from a few different styles of other ethnographies and trying to apply them to video games. Usually, these are things like “walking with” or “tour videos”, but applying them into a game context can be difficult for a variety of reasons.

The reason why I’m doing this in a weird and new manner is because I feel that some of the stuff I have read so far give very little agency to the focus of the study: the gamer themselves. For example, think of a multiple choice personality test. You’ll get questions where you aren’t sure whether you better fit one or two, or even more, of the answers available, but you can only pick one even though it is not quite right. This is so not my style. Instead, my research will be guided by gamers themselves and what they choose to say or show. It is about the gamer FULLY choosing how to represent themselves, not being some pawn. They create their own context.

And with that rant out of the way, here is Part Two wherein my friend (who I nicknamed Paladin) films his gameplay of one of his save games.

Continue reading Mount & Blade: Warband Part Two


Mount and Blade: Warband Part One

I’m trying to work out my ethics application at the moment, so I thought I’d test my instructions on one of my friends. Yes, he’d be biased; no, I’m not using it for the main study. I just wanted to see what sort of video he would create based on the instructions I gave him, and what information I could gather from it.

In this, I’m going to call him Paladin, and Paladin chose to play Mount and Blade: Warband. While he recorded two videos for me on this game, he played different avatars in each one, so this blog post will be on the first video only that went for 10 minutes (the first video is to show the character creation and introduction to the game, where the second video is showing gameplay of his most recent save file). In this video, his avatar was Shizuka.

I’ve not played Mount and Blade before, so any vagueness about the description of game play is because I’m limited by this one source. Screenshots are watermarked across the top with a web address due to the free recording software used.


Continue reading Mount and Blade: Warband Part One

Constructing a gaming body

Today I’m thinking about how a gaming body is constructed. It’s easy enough to say “DUH, it’s your avatar”, but really it is so much more than this. Gameplay affects the construction of the body, dialogue does, the narrative; but also things external to the game, like concept art,  manuals, the disc covers, figurines, books or graphic novels. And no, this isn’t really news to anyone, I’m just looking into the various things that work together to create the image. Some scholars seem very focused on gameplay elements only and ignore these extra things that game studios also produce to go alongside the game. Some consider these sort of items to be ephemera, stuff meant to be tossed away. An article I read recently called some of these physical items ‘feelies’, from Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World. I prefer instead to adopt the term paratext. A paratext is usually applied to the extra stuff about a novel: the chapter headings, the contents page, the dedications, the blurbs, the covers, marketing materials, author interviews. It’s stuff around the text itself and can actually influence the reading itself. Consider John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars Author’s Note:

“This is not so much an author’s note as an author’s reminder of what was printed in small type a few pages ago: This book is a work of fiction. I made it up. Neither Novels or their readers benefit from attempts to divine whether any facts hide inside a story. Such efforts attack the very idea that made-up stories can matter, which is sort of the foundational assumption of our species. I appreciate your cooperation in this matter.”


I’m going to use the example of the undead or Forsaken in World of Warcraft. In part simply because I freaking love the Forsaken, I love their story, I love Sylvanas (if you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know all this). But also, the Forsaken are the most abjected race, they are reviled, even their allies dislike them. They are walking corpses, an affront to nature itself, and most came about from the plague that used to infect Azeroth, but these days they are resurrected by Val’kyr.


Also this post is way long, due to the loads of pictures and Youtube clips.

Continue reading Constructing a gaming body

Agents, avatars, bodies and evolution, OH MY!

For the current expansion of World of Warcraft, Warlords of Draenor, the dev team decided that the character graphics needed a bit of an upgrade. There had been a lot of innovation and progression in graphics in the past ten years since WoW originally hit the shelves. They took on this incredibly daunting task with one idea in mind, to keep the “spirit” of the original:

With the revamp, we’re completely overhauling every aspect of the player models, but our goal is to do so while retaining the core look and feel that has always made them your character. We’ll feel like we’ve succeeded if you see the updated version of your character and it still feels like you’re looking at the character you’ve been playing for the past however many years—only someone has finally focused a lens. ~ Chris Robinson, Artcraft – A First Look

Now I was hugely invested in this change. I take so long to decide on a look for my avatar, not to mention the time invested in her (them – I’m an altoholic), their transmog, their general attitude and what titles and non-combat pets suit them best (no, I’m not on a roleplay server 😛 yes, I still consider all this anyway). For some classes, even their spec is taken into consideration when deciding on these things. leia

My Frost/Arcane mage in her Leia outfit … not sold on the staff mog or the belt, but when I get time to play I’ll look at getting more matchy ones!

Continue reading Agents, avatars, bodies and evolution, OH MY!