Lighter than Air: In which I make up maths and revisit Bioshock Infinite

Normally, after so long an absence from the blog-o-sphere, bloggers (I’ve observed) tend to write a paragraph or more of apologies and excuses. I’m not going to do that, other than to say my wife and I welcomed baby Alec into our home in late August. Since I tend to labor over my blog posts for so long anyway, this made posting untenable according to the following proof:

This is a simulated mathematical equation. The names and functions have been changed to protect the innocent.

This is a simulated mathematical equation. The names and functions have been changed to protect the innocent.

in which P represents the magnitude of parenthood, multiplied by the challenges n of being brand new to the parenting. B is the sum of all baby activities (including crying time elapsed, pacifier coordinates, and urination vectors) and Ro represents all other responsibilities (including spikes in number of errands run; time elapsed in teaching, grading, and lesson preparation; GPD (gross professional development); and number of deaf ears upon which my church music reminder emails fell upon. Added to that is the time spent eating π. These operations result in blogging quotient b, which is less than time t available.

As you can see in the maths, my reasons are justified. As they say, the numbers don’t lie (which is why I used letters).

So today I’m phoning it in and posting a recording I made of my recent presentation at the second North American Conference on Video Game Music, which took place 17–18 January at Texas Christian University in Forth Worth. It’s on Bioshock Infinite again, but this time focusing on some of the original music composed for the game by Garry Schyman, and how reminiscent it is of works composed by Charles Ives. (A look through some of my older posts might suggest that I’m a die-heard Ives fanatic, which isn’t really true; it’s just that I’ve happened to write about him a few times in this venue.)

I recommend watching it at the highest resolution; otherwise the musical notation and some text will be almost impossible to read. Without further ado:

There’s Always a Lighthouse, Part the Second: in which we finally produce the goods

It’s finally done. After completing three different 20-minute voice overs, only one of which worked as it should; after seven attempts to save said voice overs in the presentation and export it, three as HTML presentations, four at mp4s; and after being driven to near madness with how some animation builds weren’t working, or my meticulous attention to timing was ignored, or older voiceovers leaked through the new one in the final export—I did what no sensible person would do—I turned to iMovie. I know, I know, but I was pushed to extreme measures.

If that seemed nonsensical, there’s a good reason. In a previous post, I indicated my intention to upload some sort of recording of my presentation to the North American Conference on Video Game Music in January. I’ve been working for over a fortnight on this frustrating little project that should have taken a day. It didn’t turned out as polished as I’d have liked, but at some point one has to simply wring one’s hands in exasperation and go drink a pot of tea. I realized that several pots ago, but continued to work on it. At any rate, it’s done, cobbled together from bits of gameplay video and presentation slides though it be. I hope it may be of some value.

The presentation can also be viewed, along with its abstract, here.

There’s Always a Lighthouse: in which we reflect on the study of video game music

This past weekend, I attended (and presented a paper at) the inaugural North American Conference on Video Game Music in Youngstown, Ohio. It gave me an outlet for writing about some of the music in BioShock: Infinite, which, as my three long-time readers know, has been on my mind since I played the game nearly a year ago. At last, I have been energized to get off my duff and write (and maybe collaborate?) with others who are interested in this topic. Some of my initial thoughts about the game can be found in the posts “Levine Shall Sit the Throne and Drown in Reflection the Musings of Man” (on story) and “Would You Kindly?” (on religion, faith, and theology).

I was quite pleased by three aspects of the conference:

1) to learn of the depth of other scholars’ (and emerging scholars’) interest and work in video game music. I feel rather new to an already new subfield of study, so I have a lot of resources and reading available to me now.

2) at the collegiality and warmth among the small gathering. This is often more common, in my experience, at smaller academic conferences—rarely at the larger ones—but I found this particular group to be even more so than other smaller conferences. I don’t know if that’s due to the generally younger average age, perhaps implying that the dog-eat-dog mentality that some of academia’s “old guard” instill in their students hasn’t yet tainted their experience. Perhaps it was the relative youth of ludomusicology as a sub-discipline  that gave a sense of banding together for protection against the derision of that same “old guard” who deride it as an illegitimate area of study. (Of course, a quick history lesson in our own discipline would reveal that jazz, film music, and popular music on the whole have all come—or are coming—to be acceptable focus areas of musical study.)

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 11.20.26 AM3) at the staggering amount of press coverage. This never, never happens when academic conferences take place. A list of the media outlets can be found here, including a disappointingly lackluster article in Wired, complete with errata that could have easily been fixed with a Google search (Read: diegesis). This article was, I thought, more well written—perhaps it helps that the author was actually present at the conference.

It is exciting to be present at the beginning of something that promises to yield great intellectual dividends as time goes on. Well, near the beginning anyway; I’m not as experienced at writing about these topics as some who were present, but I hope to learn from their example as this burgeoning interest develops.

So, as soon as I can, I will be recording my presentation and posting it to my website (and, perhaps, here) in the interest of open scholarship. Stay tuned.