Exploring Videogames and Virtual Reality with 5CollDH Student Fellow Carl “Ott” Lindstrom

Carl "Ott" Lindstrom
Carl “Ott” Lindstrom

Over the next few months, we’re running interviews with 5CollDH Student Fellows to learn more about their projects and research process. We continue our series with Carl “Ott” Lindstrom, a senior English and Film and Media Studies major at Amherst College. 

What is your 5CollDH project about?

My as-yet-unnamed project charts the changing subject/object relationship between the spectator and the media object through three key evolutions in visual media: cinematic film, video games and virtual reality. I heavily focus on the use of the first person, POV perspective to affect subjectivity and immersion, and draw from semiotic and psychoanalytic theory as well as film studies. I am producing a non-linear, multimedia essay whose labyrinthine structure and transmedial hooks seek to mimic the exploratory, co-present nature of the mediums which I am analyzing.

How did you get interested in these questions? Were there particular classes you took, professors you worked with, or other projects that inspired your approach?

Though I have long adored and been fascinated by the video game medium, this project in particular originated from an intersection of classes. Last spring I was taking Professor Marisa Parham’s “Video Games and Boundaries of Narrative” class, as well as Professor Martha Umphrey’s “Film, Myth and the Law.” My “eureka!” moment came when we read “The History of the First Person Shooter” by Alexander Galloway in Professor Parham’s class at the same time we were watching Hitchcock’s Rear Window in Professor Umphrey’s course, which was a central text analyzed in the Galloway essay. Professor Umphrey’s analysis of the voyeuristic subjectivity of Rear Window fused brilliantly with Galloway’s video game analogizing and sent me down a joyous rabbit hole of brainstorms and research. A year later, here we are!

What tools are you using for your project? Did you have experience working with them before, or are you learning how to use them for the first time? How are the tools you’re using influencing your approach to research?

I am using USC’s Scalar digital publication program, as well as film editing tools. Though I have extensive experience with video editing, I had no familiarity with Scalar when I started out and have been self-teaching. The flexibility of Scalar’s platform has meant that I haven’t had to tailor my research to fit a specific presentational mode, which has been most convenient.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve uncovered in your research so far?

I was greatly surprised at how thoroughly integrated semiotic and film theory truly are…I hadn’t done much studying of the semiotic field prior to this project and learning how much overlap there is of terminology and methodological approaches has been eye-opening.

What challenges do you anticipate facing as you’re doing this work?

I think my biggest challenge is going to be documentation. Though my results usually deliver, my process is very arbitrary and seemingly messy and disorganized to an outsider’s eye. Properly articulating how the project sausage gets made is going to definitely be something of a headache.

Where can we learn more about your work as it unfolds?

If you want to read my frequent ramblings about the video game industry, I’m Ott Lindstrom (@banefirelord) on Twitter. I also do podcasting and infrequent editorial contributions to the Pretentious Taste media blog (pretentioustaste.tumblr.com).

Jeffrey Moro
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5CollDH Senior Post-Baccalaureate Resident

Jeffrey Moro is Senior Post-Bac with Five College Digital Humanities. He helps wrangle most aspects of the program, particularly the Student Fellowships and Microgrants. He's a PI on the AIRLab and E.LIT / NET.ART, and a close collaborator on The Space of Mexico City. He tweets at @jeffreymoro.