digital culture


Welcome to a week of research on digital aesthetics and culture at the Department of
Arts & Cultural Sciences, Lund University
November 14-17, 2011!


On Monday November 14, Dr Hanna Wirman from HongKong Polytechnic University will give a lecture for all MACA student from Lund and Copenhagen on Virtual Ethnography.  Wirman wrote her Ph.D on female computergame players and skinning practices in the game Sims 2. Please contact jessica.enevold@kultur.lu.se for inquiries and details.


On Tuesday, November 15, Dr Olli Leino, from HongKong City University, will give a HEX-lecture at 15.15 on what makes playable artefacts motivating to play. More info in the invitation to the lecture and lab below.

 

Wirman and Leino will also take part in the international symposium “Playing with Affection” on Game Love Aesthetics and Culture that takes play November 16-17, at the Department of Arts & Cultural Sciences. More on this later. I hereby extend an invitation to the HEX -lecture. A description of HEX and the Digital Cultures and Games Lectures and Lab,  and links to previous lectures and conferences, can be found at the end of the invitation.

INVITATION TO HEX DIGITAL CULTURES AND GAMES LECTURE AND LAB:

How are computer games experienced as meaningful?
Playability and Experienced Significance.

WHODr. Olli Tapio Leino, City University of Hong Kong.

WHAT: How are computer games experienced as meaningful?  Playability and Experienced Significance.

Why are in-game monsters frightening? What is erotic about erotic Tetris? Are the decorative stickers with which the players can decorate their virtual cars in Need for Speed: Undercover (2008) a waste of (in-game) money? In short, how does significance emerge in computer game play? Furthermore, what is the role of technology in this signification, and, how do computer games compare to other forms of new media in this regard? While the answers to these kinds of questions related to interpretation and experience are presupposed by critique and analysis of computer games and other playable new media forms, they are seldom explicated in detail. In this lecture, I discuss the ways in which meaning emerges in interactions with playable media forms. I will discuss also the challenges these forms of signification pose to the paradigmatic methods of interpretation, analysis, and critique of new media.

Conceptualizing computer games through the traditional “game” metaphor has been at the heart of the emerging tradition of game studies for the past decade. Computer games have been described using concepts like “rules”, “winning” and “losing”. In this lecture, however, I argue that for understanding how significance emerges in computer game play, i.e. how and why players find details in computer games meaningful, the game metaphor is slightly problematic. This is because computer game play, more than “traditional” game play, is underpinned by the involvement of technology. Admittedly, computer game play, too, is a human practice, but it is a practice defined by the involvement of technological artefacts rather than rules governing human behavior. These technological artefacts, are not simply at the service of human players like pawns on a Monopoly board, but assume an active role alongside the human subject in co-shaping and transforming the experience of play.

To complement the game metaphor, I identify “playability” as an affordance of a kind of audience engagement characterized by a duality of freedom and responsibility. By introducing themes from existentialism and post-phenomenological philosophy into a game studies framework, I focus on the ways in which playable technological artefacts, like computer games, social media applications and electronic artworks offer themselves to be experienced as significant. Contrasting playability with “playfulness”, considered as a set of aesthetic strategies, constitutes a position from which contemporary computer games and other playable artefacts, and our attempts at making sense of them, can be related to preceding forms of art and culture like participatory and performative art on the one hand, and to the contemporary forms of interactive, perhaps playful but not necessarily playable, art and media on the other.  The ensuing lab session, led by Dr. Hanna Wirman and Dr. Olli Leino, we will look at examples that illustrate the themes of the lecture in more detail.

WHEN: Nov 15, 2011. 15 – 18

15.15-16.45 Lecture + Q & A
** small break **
17.00-18.00 Exercises in the computer lab

WHERE: Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund. Room 109, ground floor, to the left, in Kulturanatomen at Biskopsgatan 7 . The ensuing lab will be held at Biskopsgatan 7, in basement game labs 022 and 019. We’ll lead you there.

HOW: Drop in. It is not mandatory to announce your participation ahead of time, but it is much appreciated! Please email: jessica.enevold@kultur.lu.se

Welcome!

Jessica Enevold
Seminar coordinator HEX Digital Cultures and Games Series

PREVIOUS LECTURES IN THE SERIES:
Dan Pinchbeck – Preserving Digital Games – Immaterial Cultural Heritage
Annette Markham – Remix Ethnography – Digital Material and Virtual Ethnography
Olli Sotama – What Makes Gamers Tick? – On Player Motivation, Production & Consumption
Esther MacCallum-Stewart – The Street Smarts of a Cartoon Princess: Female Avatars, Female Players
Miguel Sicart – Play, Interrupted: On the Ethics of Computer Games
Patrick Williams – What people do in Fantasy Gameworlds and How They Do It: User Interfaces and MMOS
Espen Aarseth – What are Games Anyway? – Introduction, Digital Cultures & Games Lecture Lab Series

CONFERENCES
Folkhälsoinstitutet och Lunds Universitet samarrangemang. 10-11 december, 2010. Spel om pengar och datorspel – Fokus på kvinnor och unga.
[Collaboration with The Swedish National Institute of Public Health; Games and Gambling – Focus on Youth and Women]

Upcoming International Symposium, Nov 16-17, 2011. “Playing with Affection” on Game Love Aesthetics & Culture. Stay tuned for more information.

HEX...
is a cross-disciplinary experimental humanities and social science research platform funded by the Faculty of Humanities and Theology, at Lund University.The aim of the experimental research group, HEX, founded in 2005, is to make possible the organizing and creating of events and products (books, films, installations) that are academically and artistically innovative. HEX serves as a think tank and a breeding ground for new research projects incorporating formats that go beyond the ordinary lecture or publication format; for example, in November 2010, Sweden’s first Science Slam was arranged by HEX  – for all activities concult the website:
http://hyphoff.kult.lu.se/hex

The Digital Cultures and Games Lecture and Lab…
is a HEX-funded seminar series that features international scholars of various disciplines well versed in the various fields of digital culture. The seminars consist of a lecture and a hands-on laboratory session in order to illustrate and make concrete what the research lectured on is truly about. The seminar series aims to bring together scholars from a variety of disciplines with the goal of familiarizing a wide culturally interested audience, including scholars, professors as well as students, and laymen to various digital cultures including games. The seminar series is open to all and conducted in English.

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Vi är många som gillar ordspel av olika slag, såväl i digital form som på papper och både sådana man ägnar sig åt ensam och tillsammans med andra. Korsord, Texttwist, Scrabble och Betapet kan jag ägna många timmar åt och jag är definitivt inte ensam. Under projektets gång har vi haft kontakt med flera spelande mammor som varit mycket engagerade i t ex Betapet. Nu finns också Wordfeud som snabbt blivit oerhört populärt. På bilden till vänster syns två av våra kollegor ägna sig åt detta i bussen då vi härom veckan åkte på personalkonferens.

Det är dock många som tycker det finns en del problem med Wordfeud. Ord man kan lägga i andra ordspel accepteras inte, man kan böja på märkliga vis och få konstiga ord accepterade. Vad är det egentligen för ordlista som används? Ja, inte är det SAOL i alla fall. I Dagens Nyheter diskuteras detta och ordförande i Svenska Scrabbleförbundet uttalar sig kritiskt. De som eventuellt fortfarande tror att digitala spel mest handlar om våld och är något som bara ett fåtal ägnar sig åt, och som menar att spel inte är någon “riktig” eller “vettig” hobby, kan ju fundera över om det verkligen är på det viset. När ett spel diskuteras på kultursidorna i landets största morgontidning, och när man på Bokmässan kommer att ordna en turnering, kan det knappast ses som en perifer aktivitet.

UCSC campus

In May 2011, I was invited to give a lecture at the Center for  Games and Playable Media, University of California, Santa Cruz. I was very kindly received by wonderful PhD students who picked me up from and delivered me to the airport and made sure I got to my appointments on campus. Thanks Brandon and John!  My jetlaggy state of mind appreciated their shepherding immensely. My talk, which stated/asked the question “What’s wrong with the gaming revolution?” was filmed, which was a new experience for me. In addition to delivering the talk, I also had meetings with doctoral students who presented their projects to me for input.  I  was very impressed with their creativity, intelligence,  and ambition to change the world with games. Noah Wardrip-Fruin, who invited med, and Michael Mateas and Jane Pinckard who are the center directors, made me feel very welcome.

Interesting chats with PhD students Heather Logas and Sherol Chen

Had interesting chats with PhD students Heather Logas and Sherol Chen

They are just as supersweet and smart as  their graduate students ;).

Despite foul rainy weather, I truly enjoyed my visit, which also contained great thai food, an (ice)creamery, listening to John Davison of CBS Interactive on “What will the games business look like in 5 years?” and a quick dinner with some of the faculty members, among them the lovely Soraya Murray, before departing.  The  UC Santa Cruz campus is a very special place with its tall redwood trees, leafy moist surroundings and hilly, curvy campus roads and large population of deer, which in turn attracts mountain lions!  Its closeness to the Silicon Valley and San Francisco and the beach makes it an attractive place to study and work.

I had not visited  UCSC in many years. Last time was in 1999, planning where to go if my Fulbright application would go through. History of Consciousness was the department I had in mind then. Eventually I ended up in New Mexico, on Route 66, for a completely different adventure. Next time I visit, I will try to fit in an old acquaintance – the Giant Dipper… “the great roller coaster […] amid screams above the golden strand of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk … a tooth-loosener, eyeball-popper, and one long shriek.” (Herb Caen).

The Giant Dipper – Santa Cruz beach boardwalk – still exists, although refurbished – for pictures click  here.

Yet another fun and interesting lecture and lab in the HEX seminar series Digital Cultures and Games was just held at the Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences. The lecture by Patrick Williams from Singapore Nanyang Technological University entitled “What people do in Fantasy Gameworlds and How They Do It: How the User Interface Brings People Together in Massively-multiplayer Online Games” took place on January 31 at Biskopsgatan 7, first in the lecture room and then in the mac-lab.
The lecture focused on the many interfaces engaged by players in an MMO like WoW and the multifaceted ways players convey and obtain information in order to play the game.

We had a record number of pre-registered participants and the lab was full. In the lab we all got to “get our hands on” handling and interacting with characters in World of Warcraft. (NB The mac – mice did not make this easier and had even seasoned WOW-players frustrated for a while!)

Thank you Patrick Williams, and thank you Erik Hannerz at the Sociology department Lund/Uppsala, whom I have collaborated with in inviting Patrick, and to the interested audience, which consisted of people from many different departments apart from our own including mathematics and HCI and students from the MACA – program.

The evening was concluded with an informal dinner where discussions could continue.
The next seminars in the series are planned for March 24, Annette Markham will speak about doing multi-site ethnography, and April 7 – Dan Pinchbeck, whose previous lecture was cancelled due to volcano ashes.

Nintendo gives $800,000 to Helen Mirren to promote Wii Fit | TG Daily.

Som Lotta påpekade nedan har ett av många efterlägntat spel just släppt och enligt Aftonbladet sprider sig “smittan” över Sverige… att den hade ett kön kunde man kanske misstänka.. men att det verkligen var så… får fråga Folkhälsoinstitutet om det kanske är läge för en utredning? 😉

Läs här om Manlig sjukdom

Miguel Sicart lectures on the Ethics of Computer Games

Lab session with Sicart- digital cultures and games 4

This time around, the 4th Hex Digital Cultures and Games Lecture/Lab seminar had a slightly different format than usual. On Thursday March 25, Jessica Enevold, HEX and Bodil Pettersson, Centre for the Study of Denmark, collaborated to arrange a half-day seminar on the theme Digital Ethics. Assistant Professor Miguel Sicart from the IT University of Copenhagen gave an inspiring and enlightening keynote with the title “Play, Interruped. On the Ethics of Computer Games.” This was preceded by presentations by Sarah Marie Holm Hansson, Nicolò Dell’Unto and Daniel Carlsson who angled the topic from as different perspectives as library science, archeology and religious studies and did so very well. The keynote was followed by a session in the gaming lab, as is customary in the Digital Cultures and Games Lecture/Lab series. Two games were tried out and discussed in terms of their success in producing ethical gameplay. Apart from being thought provoking the seminar also benefited from both speakers and audience contributing to a dynamic discussion. On behalf of Bodil and myself, I want to thank all of you who made the day so enjoyable. The entire program of the day can be found here. Next event will be held on May 18, when Dan Pinchbeck will talk about Digital Preservation. More info will be published on the Hex blog.