Masters' Thesis

Re-curating the Accident: Speedrunning as Community and Practice

Rainforest Scully-Blaker (September/2016)

This thesis is concerned with speedrunning, the practice of completing a video game as quickly as possible without the use of cheats or cheat devices as well as the community of players that unite around this sort of play. As video games become increasingly ubiquitous in popular media and culture, the project of accounting for and analysing how people interact with these pieces of software becomes more relevant than ever before. As such, this thesis emerges as an initiatory treatment of a relatively niche segment of game culture that has gone underrepresented in extant game and media scholarship. The text begins by discussing speedrunning as a community. By chronicling the community’s beginnings on SpeedDemosArchive.com and examining its growth with the emergence of contemporary content hosting sites like YouTube and Twitch, this thesis presents speedrunning as a collaborative and fast-growing community of practice made up of players who revel in playing games quickly. From there, an analysis of space and speed, both natural and virtual, is undertaken with a view to understanding how speedrunning as a practice relates to games as narrative spaces. Discussions of rule systems in games and within the speedrunning community itself follow. It is ultimately argued that speedrunning is a museum of accidents, a re-curating of a game according to what this thesis calls its explicit rules. This claim is expanded upon through the coining of a concept dubbed curatorial play as well as several case studies of developer responses to various games being speedrun.

 

A Rhizomatic Reimagining of Nintendo’s Hardware and Software History

Marilyn Sugiarto (April/2017)

Since 1985, the American video game market and its consumers have acknowledged the significance of Nintendo on the broader development of the industry; however, the place of Nintendo in the North American history primarily focuses on the company’s most successful hardware in their catalogue. This study takes a multidisciplinary approach to reconceptualise the popularized history of Nintendo and challenge the positivistic narrative that privileges the most profitable innovations. While the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Wii are influential hardware creations worthy of their dedicated literature, the generalized history of interim consoles lacks necessary critical analysis; and formal literature on the company tends to discuss failed consoles in relation to their popularized predecessors or successors. Inspired by Deleuzoguattarian theory, Nintendo’s creative ideology of lateral thinking and repurposing of outdated technology is examined through a temporal synthesis of deterritorialized and reterritorialized innovative design. This theoretical framework takes consideration of the connectivity and flows of ideas in an experimental milieu, rather than focusing on their most profitable developments. Perceiving the video game industry and Nintendo, within a rhizomatic space, informs a different perspective of Nintendo’s hardware and software history. Overall, this reconceptualization of Nintendo allows for an alternative understanding of the video game industry as a rhizomatic network of creative and experimental thought, which can emphasize a non-linear approach to the history of video game products.

 

Doctoral's Thesis

Thesis Repository

Updated on 2017-06-29T20:59:35+00:00, by mLab.