What is so interesting about the random, funny and glitchy

In the past few years, funny compilations of falls, glitches and fails from video games became popular even outside the gamer community. Acknowledged by their creators to be “random” and just “messing around”, the funny videos with goats floating up ladders, skateboarders falling through polygon walls and ridiculous car crashes in GTA have generated a lot of LOLs. Far from being just goofy and inconsequential, they can actually reveal a lot about our relationship with the newness and strangeness of virtual environments. What exactly do we find humorous about them? How do the affordances, limitations and glitches in software can be used for comical purposes and how do they allow us to experience the virtual bodies of our avatars?

My internship project investigates how tropes of physical humor are being played out in virtual environments. I am interested in how they are being performed, edited, framed and discussed. This tumblr blog, started with the help of my friend Andres Lombana from UT-Austin (who knows too much about animated slapstick) is, among other things, a chronicle of my journey to understand it and write a paper about it. It brings together both slapstick-like videos from virtual environments, other humorous content playing with the emergent nature of new media environments, quotes from literature and analytical observations. Please feel free to contribute your thoughts, comments and videos and contact me if you have any suggestions, questions or tips.

Video: TL Taylor on Pro Gaming, Live Streaming & Spectatorship

 
Current and future visitor TL Taylor spoke last week at the Berkman Luncheon series on “Live Streaming, Computer Games, and the Future of Spectatorship.”

Computer gaming has long been a social activity, complete with forms of spectatorship. With the growth of live-streaming the boundaries of audience are shifting. Professional e-sports players and amateurs alike are broadcasting their play online and in turn growing communities. But interesting issues lurk around notions of audience (and revenue), IP and licensing, and the governance and management of these spaces. T.L. Taylor — Associate Professor in the Center for Computer Games Research and author of the newly released “Raising the Stakes: E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming” (MIT Press, 2012) — presents some preliminary inquiries into this emerging intersection of “social media,” gaming, and broadcasting.

TL just accepted a job as Associate Professor at MIT’s Department of Comparative Media Studies. We’re all stoked to have her in the Boston area.