Electronic Games & The First Amendment (free PDf on SSRN)
American Studies Senior Honors Thesis, published by NILR
Prompted by the upcoming Supreme Court case Brown v. EMA (formerly Schwarzenegger v. EMA), this article explores the case history of electronic game censorship, the history of new media regulation, and how significant free speech theories can be applied to electronic games. In Brown v. EMA and similar cases, lawmakers have attempted to regulate electronic games based on their violent content, while earlier cases refused to consider electronic games as speech at all. This paper advocates a structuralist analysis of media, the expressive germ perspective, to determine which media should be considered speech. By focusing on the capabilities rather than the content of nascent media, courts can avoid misclassifying rightfully protected expression due to cultural prejudice or unfamiliarity with new media. Ultimately, this paper broadens the discussion raised by Brown v. EMA to interrogate our judiciary’s failure to protect media in their formative stages and fulfill the anti-majoritarian goals of the First Amendment.
Pop & Criticism:
Chewing the Cud
A Kill Screen review of Ian Bogost’s A Slow Year, a collection of game-poetry released as a book of machine generated haiku with a game designed for the Atari VCS/2600.
U.S. Rep. Joe Baca undeterred by videogames’ First Amendment protection
An analysis of ongoing ineffective attempts to regulate electronic games by Rep. Joe Baca written as a newspiece for Kill Screen.
Miniatures: Control & the Self
A close reading of the ideological content within the real-time strategy interface and the ludic pleasures of control. Originally appeared at The Ontological Geek; selected for This Week in Videogame Blogging by Critical Distance.
On Ruining Dear Esther
An experiential and critical account of Dear Esther, an experimental game with strong aesthetic and narrative sensibilities. Originally appeared at Oh No! Video Games!; selected for This Week in Videogame Blogging by Critical Distance.
Not New Enough: Brown v. EMA
Analysis of Brown v. EMA written for Kill Screen. Also known as the TL;DR version of the thesis, but with the added benefit of knowing that the Supreme Court comes down on the same side as the paper. It even has a few jokes!
A four-player deathmatch arcade game originally designed for Miguel Sicart’s Game Design course. Winner of the Nordic Indie Sensation 2012 Award. 2-player version available for play!