West Coast documentary journey

In January-February of 2017 I took a journey down the West Coast of North America by Amtrak, going from as far north as Vancouver, Canada to as far south as San Diego. On the way I made a series of documentary short videos about people doing interesting things with games. They’re being published by ZAM, First Person Scholar, and Paste Magazine

Vancouver, British Columbia

Full post: Watch the making of Portal 2 the unauthorized musical (ZAM)

Seattle, Washington

Full Post: Watch: Inside the Museum of Pop Culture’s unique games exhibit

King City, Oregon

Full post: Watch: Inside IMOGAP, one of the world’s largest game collections

Portland, Oregon

Full post: Watch: PLAGMADA, the museum where D&D characters go when they die

San Francisco, California

Forthcoming

Irvine, California

Forthcoming

San Diego, California

Full post: Abstract games with Raph Koster

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Skeleton in a Beret: real life in a made up world

Skeleton in a Beret is a short film about transgender people getting to know themselves via their video game avatars.

As a trans activist and a historian of games, this intersection between trans identities and game avatars has been interesting to me for a few years. It came up in my book Dreamcast Worlds, and in my work on early issues of Memory Insufficient. But the issue always seemed too complex to be tied down in writing; when you put everything down as a singular narrative that needs conclusions and concrete takeaways, you risk closing down the ambiguities and diversities in favour of some easy-to-digest narrative such as “many trans people transitioned in games before they did so in real life”.

A recent project by Eden Film Productions to help trans people to make documentaries opened up the opportunity for me to learn filmmaking skills, work with a team of other trans people, and get mentorship from an experienced documentary maker. The result was this short film on two trans people’s complicated feelings about their own identities and their experiences in their favourite videogames.

Behind-the-scenes:
[su_vimeo url=”https://vimeo.com/191379223″%5D

Critical Distance web design

New design of Critical Distance home page

Critical Distance is a somewhat rare type of website, and it can be difficult to get across what we do. We’re not quite academic, but we act as public educators. We’re part of the games press in some ways, but we’re not a “gaming website” as such. My job is to make Critical Distance more easily understood, more frequently recommended, and more productively used by a wider audience. Just as an art curator designs a gallery space, I have been trying to make our site design communicative and welcoming.

For many years now, the main thing people saw when they reach our website was a big wall of text. In that text, some truly essential work was happening, but the presentation was off-putting to many readers. After I became Senior Curator I started to hear more from those readers directly. It was clear that a change was needed if we are to increase our audience and demonstrate our use to people more readily.

I spent about 60 hours redesigning the Critical Distance website to encourage people to think of us not as a link blog, but as an educational resource. Now, the first thing people see when they access our home page is a big search bar inviting them to learn what kind of writing might exist on a randomly-selected topic. I also incorporated some flashes of colour and unusual css transformations on the featured images, to make the site look lively, without looking noisy.

[su_box title=”Posts from Critical Distance on the new design”]

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Old design:

Look around a snapshot of the old site at archive.org.

New design:

Look around the living, breathing, new site at critical-distance.com.

Delay

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In this short collection of essays, Zoya Street explores energy mechanics, bringing together game design theory with queer theory, anthropology and a study of the recent history of social game design.
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Digital Bodies

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In the essays brought together here Zoya Street unpicks some of the ways that materiality, skill and identity shape the labour and leisure of games.
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Dreamcast Worlds

Travelling through the maps and screens of three Dreamcast games, follow the network of players, developers and events that contributed to the Dreamcast phenomenon. This is a spatial history of videogames, focusing on a time when 3D, open-world virtual play spaces first became possible.
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Memory Insufficient

Volume three

Special announcement: Volume three of Memory Insufficient has been published on a new site with Silverstring Media. More information here:

Volume two

Issue one: Asia

Issue two: Gender and sexuality

Issue three: Food

Issue four: Labour

Issue five: Religion

Issue six: Allohistories

Issue seven: Language

Issue eight: Theatre (delayed)

Issue nine: Discipline

Issue ten: Music

Volume one

Issue one: Women

Issue two: Asia

Issue three: Gender and sexual diversity

Issue four: Imperialism

Issue five: Hardware

Issue six: Hispanic heritage (delayed)

Issue seven: Disabilities

Issue eight: Marketing

Issue nine: Ecology

Issue ten: Black history