games research


Just a quick note on past events. June 6-8, the second Nordic Digra Conference was held in Tampere, Finland. Right after Nick Montfort gave his keynote, I presented my article “Domesticating Play, Designing Everyday Life” as the first presenter in our panel, which was a very interesting one overall. I also got to  enjoy both the presence  and presentations of many of my  great colleagues/friends from all over Europe AND delicious carrot-beetroot cake served during the coffee break! All papers are accessible from the Proceedings, published in the Digra Digital Library.

Unfortunately I had to hurry home to the MACA graduation, (which NB was a great event!) and had to miss most of the second day. But Nordic Digra 2012 was a great event the organizers can be proud of and it is always great to listen and mingle with  game studies people who tend to come from all kinds of disciplinary corners. An anthropologist, Minna Ruckenstein,  even got to give one of the keynotes – on  gambling. For those of you with Facebook, some additional info and pics can be found here. Linderoth has also written, in Swedish though, about the conference and a few of the papers on his blog Spelvetenskapliga betraktelser.

And here I thought Game Studies was NOT male-dominated :). In any case: a glimpse of the game scholars attentively listening to Annika’s talk.

Annika Waeern and Raine Koskimaa

Annika Waern “framing games” in a full room of critical game scholars! Program Chair Raine Koskimaa listening to the left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next on this site, we should hear from Lotta’s attendance and presentation at the 32nd Nordic Ethnology and Folklorist conference in Bergen, Norway, where she gets to hang out with all our great ethnology-colleagues. Yes, I wish I were there!  But, then we are soon both off to Paris to present at the huge conference Crossroads in Cultural Studies 2012 – which btw must have the most boring website ever… they rely totally on the attraction of Pareeeeh. Aah, but soo do we.  Alors, brioche et vin, la semaine prochaine !! See you there perhaps!

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.

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.

I am editing an anthology together with Esther MacCallum Stewart on the theme of Game Love.
Having secured a number of great contributions already, we are looking forward to submissions from those of you out there whose game-love interest we have still to become aware of! I have high hopes this will be a great and fun addition to game studies!

Game Love – Call for chapters
Editors: Jessica Enevold & Esther MacCallum-Stewart

The editors seek to assemble an edited collection of papers on the subject of Love and Games. Whilst much has been written on violence and sex in games, the representation, creation and expression of love in and for games has hitherto been sparse, but is now gathering increased attention and interest. The authors have wished to assemble this collection for some time, and feel that Games Studies has reached a point of maturity during which such a study will help further some of the complex debates emerging in this area.
Digital romances are reportedly complicated to tell in game form–whether it be story articulation or graphical rendition–still, attempts have been made both to convey stories of love and to engage the player emotionally in games. But how, and to what effect? What are the limitations and affordances of the game format when it comes to love? Moreover, love frequently evolves digitally among gamers–both for the game and for each other, but their stories seldom get told other than in forums or occasional journalistic sprees disclosing the behind the scenes of gaming. What are the specific qualities of games, gamers and gaming to bring such digitally inspired love about? Lastly, celebratory invocations of games and declarations of affection for individual avatars or favorite game characters abound, in fan, media and academic texts. If looked at more closely, what do they tell us about games and players, today and historically?

The collection Game Love attempts to address some of the key debates in current Games Studies. We invite papers that draw from the topics listed below as a starting point from which to direct your investigations. The framework drawn up is based on earlier studies into the definition of love in and for games begun here: Game Love – a model. We welcome challenges and alternative perspectives to this framework, as well as lively debate within the collection as to the nature and manifestation of love in and for games.

Abstracts on the following issues or combinations thereof are therefore encouraged:

1. The Game itself:
Semiotics–representation, narrative, cinematographic elements such as cut scenes or mono/duologues, asides or intertextuality
Mechanics–interface options, verbs, changes in game state related to love.
Design– technique, design structure and theory, avatar and emotional design.

2. Player-generated love, paraludic action or interaction among players.
Performative aspects of gaming– roleplay, fan fiction, machinima, webzines.
Fan cultures and production.
Gaming as romance.
Sociological, autoethnographic or other studies of love in games.
Love for or of specific foci, such as avatar, place or specific title.

3. Game Discourse
Critical and Media Debates surrounding the issue of love in/and for games
Gaming history
Socio-cultural understandings of love and its relation to games and gaming.
Critical approaches to love and games– for example gendered readings or other critical standpoints.
Critical fan discussion on games, the language of reviewers etc.
Media responses to love in games.

4. Love for Games
Ludophobia, ludophilia, ludomania, which may be interpreted in a number of ways
Excess and moral panics; Addiction – strongly connected to the theme of love – other perspectives will be tested for relevance

For additional ideas, inspiration or explanation of these four main topic clusters, have a look at the previously referenced model here: Game Love – a model. (Enevold 2008/2010).

We recommend writers to stick to a jargon free, clear, but firmly academically anchored prose.
Abstracts should be 500 words, for chapters aiming to be approx 7-9000 words when complete.

Timelines are as follows:
30th April 2011 – Deadline for abstracts
30th May – contributors informed of selection
1st December 2011 – first draft due in
July 2012 – Estimated date of publication

Please send abstracts to both editors :
Esther MacCallum-Stewart (Neveah@gmail.com) and
Jessica Enevold (Jessica.enevold@kultur.lu.se).

Picture used under Creative Commons

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.

10-11 december arrangerar jag tillsammans med Folkhälsoinstitutet och Spelberoendes Riksförbund konferensen Spel om pengar och datorspel – fokus på kvinnor och unga. Länk till inbjudan och program finns på FHIs sida. Konferensen hålls på kulturanatomen, Biskopsgatan 7. Jag, Jessica Enevold, deltager dels som forskare i Institutionen för Kulturvetenskapers forskningsplatttormProgram K, – Kultur, Kris, Kunskap, där jag sysslar med en studie av “Spel och Lek i Nöd och Lust” dels som forskare i projekt Gaming Moms (vars blogg du nu läser) tillsammans med Charlotte Hagström. Vår presentation kommer att fokusera på spel och vardagskultur. Vår trevliga kollega från IT-universitetet i Danmark, Emma Witkowski, doktorand i Game Studies, kommer att tala om e-sport.

August 16-17 I attended the first conference of the Nordic DIGRA – the Nordic chapter of the Digital Games Research Association. It was held at the department of computer science at Stockholm University, located in Kista. The roster contained several familiar faces. The turn out was in general positive and it was a luxury for once to be able to just sit and enjoy while others did the talking. Thank you all participants who presented. A special thank you to Markus Montola who presented on the uncomfortable topic of roleplaying games that can be considered controversial to say the least, and political, challenging, provocative and educational at best. Thanks also to Tobias Wrigstad who dares make such games that Markus spoke of. And I learned some new words in the process like “bleed” in the context of roleplay and “jeepform” RP. 🙂 You can see for yourself here! Kisses to you for enlightening me and hugs to the conference organizers for making this an enjoyable first Nordic Digra conference and greetings to everyone else who made the conference a success.

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