Zack Aman

05 Mar 2015

Red Shirts and Blue Shirts (The Gay Agenda)

“Red Shirts and Blue Shirts (The Gay Agenda)” is an interview about gender and sexuality (gay marriage, specifically) taking place within World of Warcraft. The author starts by private messaging people who respond to someone asking about LGBTQ guilds and asks them to explain their thoughts. What interests me about this project is how it coopts the communication present in the game, which is more frequently used for killing dragons or trading virtual items. She takes a virtual world and reminds the viewer that there are real people behind the avatars, and those people have thoughts with real consequences in the physical world. I was surprised that the quality of discourse was so high, though this might be skewed by editing out all of the non-responses.

My biggest complaint is the camera work. I’ve played WoW– I know it’s natural to move the camera wildly and jump around, but it makes for a painful viewing experience. Other than that, I’d like to see some larger context to her research, such as how frequently people actually respond to her, and her general estimation of whether or not WoW players are homophobic. She was surprisingly effective at conducting an interview within the virtual space, going to extra lengths to make sure her intent was well received.

Washko understands her work as an intervention, and through her work she seeks to actively change the gaming environment for women. Her work is grounded in feminist theory, but especially in engagement and facilitating discussion to change belief. What is innovative about it is that it is translated to the digital world, which is tends to be even more misogynistic in its protective anonymity.

Show Me How Not to Fight

“Show Me How Not to Fight” is an auditory translation of game data in Counterstrike. Events from the game (such as footsteps and gunshots) are extracted from the game, piped to Ableton for quantization, and then rendered on the screen as a graphical score for live musicians. This is something I’d love to be able to do; there are tools to parse Dota2 replay data ( but I haven’t found anything for realtime data. Access to game data would allow me to do a lot of interesting things such as controlling sentiment of chat bots.

In the Counterstrike instance, i like the data being piped and turned into music–the percussion is fitting given the percussive nature of the game. I do wish, however, that the quantization were less rigid; I think it divorces the output from the source a bit too much.