The research continues!

I’ll admit, I don’t know how best to start these blog posts. I don’t have a spiffy introduction as of yet, and I’m not quite sure if I ever will have one. But I suppose the introduction here isn’t as important as the updates, and so, to that end…

My literature review progress continues to go well. Hopefully you’ve read the reading list on this site which highlights a lot of what I’ve done previously. If not, please do, I’m pretty proud of it. 

Over the past week and a half I’ve managed to expand my knowledge and opened myself up to a whole new lens or framework through which to examine this work. Curious, I know. So, what have I been reading?

The Audio Media Revolution by Martin Spinelli and Lance Dann (2019)

This was a good read, but is not what ultimately opened myself up to a new lens. There’s a lot here that lines up with or expands upon ideas mentioned in previous articles or books on my reading list, with four chapters in particular likely to be referenced in my later work.

The first was a chapter about podcast communities, examining them using well known podcast drama Welcome to Night Vale (among others) as a case study. The analysis of the way shows engaged with fans is certainly something I’d not directly considered (breaking down the engagements on Twitter from the creators and the show’s accounts), but is something I may well find myself doing in my work.

The second chapter that caught my eye was one about the intimate nature of podcasts, which set itself apart from other discussion of podcast intimacy by focusing on shows whose focus is intimate acts. The stimulating subject matter made it an interesting approach to a topic that is often raised when discussing podcasts, and made for a compelling read.

Following on from that, a chapter focused on looking at ways that the platforms and systems of podcasts can be gamed fits right into my ideas and analysis of the ways that creators are reliant on these platforms—something also emphasized by the final chapter which directly tackled questions of what it means for a podcast to be successful. Both of these chapters tie directly into the work of this project and were great reads that further filled out my knowledge base on the topic.

As far as reading goes, that book was the main noteworthy one (though I did devour Matthew Reilly’s latest over the weekend—please don’t judge me for my vices). There are two other important things to note however, including the one that opened up my perspective, which I will get to in a moment. But first…

DiGRAA and DiGRA International

For those who don’t know, DiGRA is the Digital Games Research Association, with DiGRAA being the local Australian counterpart. Over the past week, I refined and submitted conference abstracts to both the International DiGRA (which my friends have taken to affectionately calling BiGRA) conference and the more local conference, both scheduled for the first half of 2022. The hope is to present at these conferences about the gaming podcast work chronicled here, focusing on defining the field by outlining the types of podcasts that exist within it. Of course, a submission is far from an acceptance and this may well not materialize.

Also of note is the international nature of DiGRA International, which is being held in Mexico. It’s unclear at the moment how much will be online, and if Australian borders will allow travel. I’d love the chance to visit the country and attend in person so fingers crossed, but as mentioned, a lot of this is up in the air.

Anyway, with that out of the way, on to the final thing, the part of my week which changed my perspective on this project which was…

A supervisory meeting…?

Yes, it may not seem like the most revelatory of events, but my recent supervisory meeting was a great one which gave me a lot to think on and helped with future direction of this project (as good meetings should). This meeting was not just between me and Mark, but also included one of my other supervisors, the wonderful Benedetta Brevini. It was Bene’s words which prompted this revelation, as we discussed my current approach to analyzing the platforms. Criticism of platforms and corporations is far more in her wheelhouse than mine or Mark’s and she noted that while Platform Capitalism is a helpful tool, it should not be the only one in our analysis of the platforms.

This is… 100% correct, and what the next few readings I’m going to be doing are likely to concern themselves with. Beyond Bene’s own book which theorizes that companies like Amazon are akin to “Digital Lords” who resemble old feudal lords and monarchs, there is also the work of Zuboff’s Surveillance Capitalism, writings on data capitalism, and digital colonialism to consider. I’m not sure how many of these will end up in my thesis, but they certainly will help clarify my approach to platform analysis and criticism. So that’s what my next steps are.

Interestingly, a video I was watching on my lunch break today from popular leftist streamer Hasanabi (Hasan Piker) directly engaged with these ideas of large billionaires and corporations being akin to feudal lords or monarchs (click the link to get straight to where he discusses this idea). While I doubt Piker’s take is in direct alignment with the academic theory on the matter, it does show how widespread these ways of thinking about the corporations are becoming.

What else is news?

Beyond the academic, there’s not much that’s going on at the moment. We are reaching the time of year where a glut of good games are coming out, to the point I must remind myself I’m being paid to study. Beyond playing Disco Elysium for the first time on Switch (a phenomenal game so far, only marred by Joy-Con Drift), I have also picked up the Guardians of the Galaxy game and Inscryption. The former has decent combat and wonderful writing that captures the tone of the characters, while the latter has a delightfully creepy vibe behind its mystery which is paired with some wonderful card based combat. Then there’s the Tomb Raider games I picked up on sale, which I also started against my instincts. I’m picking up games like I’m still in lockdown, despite restrictions having eased.Speaking of which… I need to write more for my D&D campaign. (Don’t tell the players, but last session concluded my solid notes and I need to create some more concrete things for their immediate future beyond plans in my head)

Seems unlikely that I’ll get the chance to circle back and finish CrossCode anytime soon, even if I did enjoy the 5-10 hours I put into it so far. You’ll likely hear some more of my thoughts on these games as I finish them, but so far… I’d recommend them all.

Anyway, that about does it for updates. Until next time.
Ryan


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