Faculty/Staff Achievement: Dr. Jess Morrissette


Dr. Jess Morrissette’s  research has been featured in the July 2018 issue of Game Informer, a video game magazine with an international circulation of over 6 million readers.

The article is titled “The Virtual Soda Machine Collector,” and it’s in reference to his ongoing research on the digital soda machines that appear in video games. The research is tied to his website, The Video Game Soda Machine Project (http://vgsmproject.com/), where he has collected more than 2,000 soda machines over the past year and a half.

More specifically, the research analyzes the socio-cultural meanings of these virtual soda machines. In April, he presented a paper on this topic at the annual convention of the Popular Culture Association in Indianapolis, Indiana. The presentation was titled “I’d Like to Buy the World a Nuka-Cola: The Purposes and Meanings of Video Game Soda Machines.” The abstract is as follows:

Anyone who has spent significant time playing video games has likely encountered a virtual soda machine in his or her adventures. Whether it’s a Nuka-Cola machine in the Fallout games, a Grog machine in the Monkey Island series, or any number of other examples, soda machines are surprisingly ubiquitous throughout the medium. Why do soda machines appear so frequently in video games? What purposes do they serve? What values do they represent? This paper takes a qualitative critical approach to answering these questions by identifying depictions of soda vending machines in video games and analyzing the various roles — aesthetic, ludic, and thematic — played by these machines. It goes on to argue that soda machines play a crucial role in grounding video games in a world we recognize as similar to our own, while simultaneously reinforcing the consumerist values of modern capitalism. The paper draws on data collected by the Video Game Soda Machine Project, a website maintained by the author that has cataloged 2,000 soda machines across every major platform and genre.

The issue is available online at: https://gameinformer.mydigitalpublication.com/publication/?m=10122