"Think Inside the Box: Platform Studies" is the topic of the next Center for Computer Games and Virtual Worlds Speakers Series presentation Friday at UC Irvine.
Panelists are: Ian Bogost, associate professor of Literature, Communication and Culture at Georgia Institute of Technology; Nick Montfort, associate professor of Digital Media at MIT; and Elizabeth Losh, a UCI Humanities' lecturer and writing director.
"Little work has been done on how the hardware and software of platforms influences, facilitates or constrains particular forms of computational expression," according to a presentation abstract emailed over by Venita De Souza, the ever-helpful director of research development with the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences.
Huh . . . whassa . . . you say you want more? Here you go, Gamey:
Platforms have been around for decades, right under our video games and digital art. Those studying new media are now starting to dig down to the level of code to learn more about how computers are used in culture, but there have been few attempts to go deeper, to the metal--to look at the base hardware and software systems that are the foundation of computational expression. By choosing a platform, new media creators simplify development and delivery in many ways. Their work is supported and constrained by what this platform can do. Sometimes the influence is obvious: A monochrome platform can't display color, a video game console without a keyboard can't accept typed input. But there are more subtle ways that platforms interact with creative production, due to the idioms of programming that a language supports or due to transistor-level decisions made in video and audio hardware.
In addition to allowing certain developments and precluding others, platforms also encourage and discourage different sorts of expressive new media work. In drawing raster graphics, the difference between setting up one scan line at a time, having video RAM with support for tiles and sprites, or having a native 3D model can end up being much more important than resolution or color depth. Studies in computer science and engineering have addressed the question of how platforms are best developed and what is best encapsulated in the platform. Studies in digital media have addressed the cultural relevance of particular software that runs on platforms.
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If I had a nickel for every time my raster graphics were infested with sprites in my 3D modeling!
The mirth and merriment continues when the panel convenes from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at 6011 Donald Bren Hall on the UCI campus. A reception follows until 6:30 p.m. Then it's on to the co-ed dorms to pants the Omegas.
Just kidding about that last one.
My platform is going to be so messed up when I get home.