Over the past few months, I have been diligently working through the quirks of InDesign in order to put together a collection of some of the work my colleagues and I from the Transtechnology Research group have presented as part of the past two seminar series’.
Designing a book, very loosely based off a previous template, is unsurprisingly a considerable undertaking. Even though the majority of it is text, being an academic publication meant having to deal with those pesky footnotes and to a lesser extent bibliographies; thankfully the style guide, for the most part, had already been applied. There is a considerable number of images, however, some included in the texts (my own piece had a few), most though came later with the inclusion of “Practice Portfolios” that demonstrated the wider depiction of people’s work; of course, these had to be positioned according to who the author/artist intended, as it is similar to displaying them in a gallery.
I was surprised at how quickly they came back from the University printers, having naively assumed the process itself would take a little while. As unbeknown to myself there was a stack of freshly printed books available to browse through sitting there in the office. The first thing I did was check the images, as considerable effort went into the careful placement (some of the images bleed over the page), resizing, and greyscaling. It was gratifying to see that all of the images had printed exactly how I wanted them, many of which actually came out better. Of course, I had carefully gone over them through different types of print previews and test prints, but the process if printing still has that magical edge to it
In addition to designing and putting together the book, I also have a paper included inside. Titled “Illusions of Choice in Digital Narratives” this is a followup to the seminar I co-presented for the 2016-17 Transtechnology Seminar Series “Tropes of Affect: Devices, Narrative and Illusion”. The original seminar paper, titled “Narratives of Illusion – Illusions of Narrative”, was itself a follow up to a report I wrote during my War Studies MA at King’s College London (which can be found here) but updated based on later research from an abandoned paper. It was acting as a response to a recent incendiary article by videogames academic Ian Bogost who wrote that “Video Games Are Better Without Stories”. Whilst I didn’t agree with him his piece did provide me with valuable questions to answer why I thought narrative mattered in videogames.
The subsequent paper dropped references to Baudrillard but went into further detail readdressing ludonarrative dissonance. I also used it to claim that videogames were now “post-Spec Ops”, having since gone beyond the uneasy, but at the time impactful, relationship between narrative and gameplay found in 2007s BioShock. Therefore recent videogames like 2017s Nier: Automata can be seen having taken the advancements made in 2012s Spec Ops: The Line that effectively used narrative to reinforce the gameplay to instead use gameplay to reinforce the narrative.
You can read the entire paper here and I will update this page when the PDF version of the whole book is live on the Transtechnology website.