The Videogame Text

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Zach Whalen

Zach Whalen

University of Mary Washington
Speaker Website
MITH Conference Room
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
12:30 pm

The word ‘text’ in this title does double duty. First, it identifies the videogame itself as a text in the general sense: the object of study, the type of artifact which is here subjected to analysis. Second, the specific textual phenomenon which will be the focus of this presentation is, literally, videogame text—that is, the design, appearance, and uses of alphanumeric characters within videogames. By situating videogame typography in an appropriate historical, cultural, and technological context, an analysis of letter and number forms and their uses on the videogame screen can yield insights into the design history and dissemination of videogame texts. Further, the aesthetic properties of videogame text are shown to be one means by which specific videogame platforms express their influence over videogame discourse. This presentation, which summarizes the major research of my dissertation, will focus on typography in early videogame systems. It will also include a demonstration of a data-mining tool developed for this purpose.

Zach is an Associate Professor at the University of Mary Washington where he teaches courses in Digital Studies. This includes topics like electronic literature, video games, graphic novels, transmedia fiction, and writing for digital media. His research focuses on video game history, platform studies, creative coding, and comics. He co-edited Playing the Past: History and Nostalgia in Video Games (2008) with Laurie N. Taylor.

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