The True Meaning of The Last Guardian is Symbolized in the Magical Tattoos

The much anticipated sequel to Ico and Shadow of the Colossus was finally released, and it did not disappoint. Designer and creator Fumito Ueda and Team Ico presented a magical tale between the wild creature Trico and the unnamed boy that tames it, crawling through dungeons and solving puzzles together. The Last Guardian lives up to the expectations, but the narrative is ambigeous. I propose a close-reading of the game through its main themes – spiritual tattoos and shamanism. This is a story of blood and ink, as much as it is of pixels.

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Playful and blended learning at OEB16

‘Diverse, collaborative, transformative’ were the key words for OEB16 (Online Educa Berlin), a global conference on technology and learning, which is held annually in Berlin. This year’s theme was owning learning. How much ownership can people take of their learning, and in what circumstances? I would  love to share some of my experiences on this blog. Since I was with many colleagues, I had the opportunity to focus on the general talks as well as talks focusing on media literacy, and creativity and play in learning.


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Theory on The Island in Art Game Dear Esther


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Dear Esther is a remarkable, haunting game. This walking simulator is rife with intertext and biblical references – a layer cake of potential meanings. Set at an abandoned Hebridean island, the player explores a dark island. Dear Esther can be interpreted as a modern ghost story. Its melancholic atmosphere and attention for haunted landscapes, rife with past memories, quickly allow us to associate it with classic gothic fiction. The identity of this narrator and the player-character remain ambiguous throughout the game. Do we control Esther? Are we her husband, or even a sea gull traversing the land? It’s hard to give closure to rich virtual poem, but let’s pick up on some of the key themes!


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How We Should Interpret the Platform Game Contrast


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As a platform game, Contrast is a little broken, but it fascinates me. I played it various times, and have seen many interpretations of the story, but none of them seemed complete to me. At its surface, Contrast is an unusual platform game, characterized by its vaudeville aesthetics. Its atmosphere consists of carnivalesque settings and noir elements. Smokey night clubs, circuses and magic shows are but a few of the sites that Contrast has to offer. But Contrast has also riddled the minds of players. Who is Dawn and what is her relationship to Didi? I am writing down this fan theory because I believe that much has been overlooked, and I am not surprised. To interpret this game, we need to look primarily at the setting and collectibles.

Contrast screenshot

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Research Trends at the European Fan Cultures Conference


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European Fan Cultures are important, but the field of fan and audience studies is dominated by Anglo-American studies. At the European Fan Cultures Conference (Erasmus University, 12-13 November 2015), many interdisciplinary scholars met to discuss the state of the art of fan cultures. Most scholars did not identify as fan  scholars, but what we shared was an interest in active audiences as a research object. Coming from sociology, musicology, psychology and other disciplines, we had a fruitful two days discussing research trends and results from our studies. I’ll list some key discussion points here!


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8 Important Lessons about Studying Fans from the Fan Studies Network Conference


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Fan scholars all over the world united this weekend for the Fan Studies Network Conference (#FSN2015), held from 27-28th June 2015 at University of East Anglia. What is the state of the art of fan studies at the moment? And more important, what’s missing? I’ll focus on 10 important statements that were made this weekend. image Continue reading

What Local Exhibitions Tell You About Music Fandom



There’s nothing quite like Rowwen Hèze in The Netherlands. This Dutch band (from the southern Limburg) has its 30th anniversary this year, and celebrates it in style with friends. Limburgs Museum opened an exhibition on them and decided to also put a spotlight on the dedicated fan following of these local celebrities! Who are these loyal supporters? And is a local exhibit on fan cultures really that important? I would argue, yes.


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Who is the Expert in a Participatory Culture? The Opening of the New Research Centre MACCH

On 22 and 23 March we celebrated the official opening of MACCH – Maastricht Centre for Arts and Culture, Conservation and Heritage. The opening on Sunday featured inspiring talks on the role of expertise and participation in the arts. I’ll write a bit about this conference, titled Assembling Value, and what you can expect from MACCH!


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