Any Academics Writing/Researching Sierra?

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    • #21320 Reply


      I’m a PhD student in digital cultural studies, working on computer game history (particularly researching the role of the computer in the home in 1980s as a way of writing an interventionist feminist game history–Friedrich Kittler meets Katherine Hayles?). Anyway, I was curious to know if any other academics are stalking this site.

      I know Ken’s said that a book on Sierra would never make it to market, but don’t under-rate the academic book press, most of which slams Sierra in favor of Infocom. However, it seems that a number of people who played the games growing up (myself included) have “come of age” so to speak and are writing and making art about the games (I know of one other PhD student working on sierra, and there is a play going up in Brooklyn this week based on the Sierra adventure style.

      I thought it would be interesting to speak to anyone else working in the field to trade resources/thoughts/projects.

      Also–I’m very eager to know if anyone has advice on how to “downgrade” a computer so it could play the old games–is it still feasible to even rig up a machine with a 5.25 drive, or to install Windows 3.1 on a more contemporary machine?

    • #21321 Reply

      I am interested in knowing how your work goes.
      its very easy now to download and play the old games on a program like dosbox. I can tell you more if you want.

    • #21322 Reply

       I’ve done a little work, and I’m working on proposing more. I just started on an M.A. in English Literature. At the moment I’m taking some work I did in my undergrad on the representation of women in King’s Quest and developing some of the theory I improvised for that project into a more universal “literary” approach to games in general, which I will present at a conference in the spring. I’m also looking into doing some work on the Gothic motifs in Phantasmagoria, starting with the inclusion of Polidori’s Vampyre; I’d like to do this for my master’s thesis.

      Have you read James Paul Gee’s book What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy? That was where my adviser on my undergraduate study on King’s Quest had me start. I can recommend a few other works if you want published scholarly works that deal with video games; I keep an annotated bibliography.

      As to hardware issues: it shouldn’t be too hard to format a hard drive (especially if you got a slightly older one) and, if you have the installation discs, install an older Windows. I can say this from experience: the Windows XP Compatibility mode in Windows 7 doesn’t work very well at all. I’m looking into requisitioning an old PC from my department that would probably be thrown away if anyone noticed it was sitting in my office, which should run Win 98 if I can get it operating.

      I had been stalking the site for a while, but the move to this institution and my other computer crashing distracted me (and lost a lot of my Sierra links). And when I got back here–it was all updated!

      I’m interested in seeing what exactly you are doing with the media. It sounds interesting (and probably more relevant than my literary approaches, but I do what I’m good at).

    • #21323 Reply

      I think it’s great that people are doing university work on these old games!

      You should get a real old 286 computer to run these classic games on! ¬†Play them the way they were originally played, off a crusty old 5 1/4″ disc, and the PC speaker. ¬†Fantastiche!
      But seriously, if you want to run them well, you could try DosBox, which emulates DOS within Windows, which should give you the convenience of modern computers, just using a file for the game (instead of an unreliable old diskette), and they also let you save and load your game more conveniently, and should also emulate old sound cards and things.
      All the best.
      – Murray
    • #21324 Reply

      This site does not see much traffic these days. But then traffic on many boards is down. You can find many of the Sierra fans on some of the fan sites, like the Sierra Help Pages Forum or the Gabriel Knight forum.

      To make these old games run on modern hardware is possible. This page has a number of new installers that allow them to run on modern Windows, even 64-bit Windows.

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