Event 27th February 2014

Bodies, Methods, Fields and Networks
Digital Games Research Event
Convened by Diane Car, IOE, University of London

Supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK.

27th February
London Knowledge Lab, 23-29 Emerald St. London WC1N 3QS
10:00 – 3:30
The event is free to attend but places are limited. RSVP to d.carr@ioe.ac.uk

Session 1
10:00 – 11:00
Welcome
Presentation, project discussion: Ability as representation in digital games
Diane Carr, IOE, University of London

Session 2
11:00 – 12:30
Space, Method, Text and Practice
Invited speakers
Alison Gazzard, IOE, University of London
Ewan Kirkland, University of Brighton
Sybille Lammes, University of Warwick

12:30 – 1:15
Lunch

Session 3
1:15 – 2:15
Fields and Networks, part 1
Reflections on disciplinary perspective and research networks in game studies
Invited speakers
Stephan Günzel, University of Applied Sciences, Berlin
Gordon Calleja, University of Malta

Session 4
2:30 – 3:30
Fields and Networks, part 2
Discussion: Is it time for a UK chapter of DiGRA?
Chaired by Ashley Brown (University of Manchester) and Esther MacCallum-Stewart (UWE and University of Surrey).

Details (titles, abstracts, etc) are being updated, see Comments

Keywords: Representation, bodies, augmentation, damage, affect, interdisciplinarity, empirical research, game philosophy, maze, path, game design, analysis, videogame space, ludic interfaces, immutable mobiles (Latour), deep play, open play, layering, inscription

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One Response to “Event 27th February 2014”

  1. playhouse Says:

    Titles and abstracts will be updated here.

    Alison Gazzard. Mapping, Making and Playing the Maze in Videogames

    Sybille Lammes. Putting players in the map: inscriptions, risk and power

    Stephan Günzel. The ‘Digital Games Research Center’ (DIGAREC) in Potsdam – How we did it

    Diane Carr. Digital Games: Representations of disability.

    ABSTRACTS

    Mapping, Making and Playing the Maze in Videogames
    Alison Gazzard

    Spatial metaphors such as mazes, gardens,arenas, and tracks are often used as broad terms to discuss and analyse videogame spaces (Taylor 2006, Nitche 2008, Aarseth 1997, Fernadez-Vara 2007). As the maze is commonly used to describe the player experience of certain game spaces, this talk will analyse the maze in more detail to understand what the maze as a structure really means and how the paths of the videogame might be negotiated by players. The focus will be on path structures found within real world maze such as dead-ends, forked paths, and paths that loop back on themselves. These paths will then be mapped against those encountered by the player in examples of first and third person videogames. The differences between the designed experience, the mapped view and the played path will be discussed through examples of practice-based research methodologies combined with further videogame analysis as a way of showing approaches to both the study and creation of game spaces.
    References
    Aarseth, E. (1997) Cybertext. Baltimore:John Hopkins University Press.
    Fernández-Vara, C. (2007) ‘Labyrinth and Maze’, in Space Time Play, Computer Games, Architecture and Urbanism: The Next Level ed. Friedrich von Borries, Steffen P. Walz and Matthias Böttger. Basel: Birkhauser.
    Nitsche, M. (2008) Video Game Spaces. Massachusetts: MITPress.
    Taylor, L.N. (2006) ‘Labyrinths, Mazes, Gardens, and Sandboxes: Game Space Metaphors’ in GameSetandMatch II: On Computer Games, Advanced Geometries, and Digital Technologies. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Episode Publishers.

    Putting players in the map: inscriptions, risk and power
    Sybille Lammes
    Keywords: Ludic interfaces, immutable mobiles, deep play, open play, layering, inscription

    In this presentation I will discuss how digital mapping interfaces can invite users to put themselves in the map and how this activity can be understood as playful. Play is an important principle in how we use digital maps as a means for socio-spatial networking and how we reconfigure, create and reflect on power relations in spatial terms. It is understood here as a range of activities that go beyond ordinary life by taking on a playful attitude (Cermak-Sassenrath 2013) and as activities of pleasure (Fiske 1993) yet not necessarily fun (cf Malaby 2007). Focusing on location-based games, I will argue that digital maps should be conceived as specific kinds of navigational interfaces that can proscribe playful performative acts, especially when they invite us to leave traces of our whereabouts as insciptions or layers in the mapping interface. As sign-things (Latour 1990) they invite players to visually perform their socio-spatial identities that are ‘absorbed’ by the map as GUI. This quality of digital navigational interfaces needs to be further theorized to understand how digital maps precisely have the potential to proscribe play and how this changes the configuration of our contemporary spatial identities in relation to power. I use the term navigational interfaces to mark a shift in the public perception of maps from the mimetic to the navigational (Lammes 2011). This underlines what November, Camacho-Hübner and Latour (2010) have marked as a shift in the public perception of maps since the digital turn. They consider risk as a key notion to allow us to move away from an understanding of maps as ‘frozen’ and mimetic immutable objects that pre-determine the references we are ‘allowed’ to make. Yet, I will argue that play is an important and compatible concept to account for this as well and will specify what I mean by this by focussing on the relation between deep play (Geertz 1972) and open play as perilous navigational strategies that players can use to put themselves in the map.

    The ‘Digital Games Research Center’ (DIGAREC) in Potsdam – How we did it
    Stephan Günzel

    Keywords: interdisciplinarity, empirical research, game philosophy, computer game collection, funding

    The presentation will give a brief introduction to the activities of the Digital Games Research Center (DIGAREC) at the University Potsdam, established in 2008. It was the first of its kind in Germany and closely cooperating with other international institutes, such as the Center of Computer Games Research at the ITU in Copenhagen. Beside conferences (e.g. the Philosophy of Computer Games), workshops and lectures with games scholars from all over the world, and an own publication-series, DIGAREC is running a game collection for which a system of categories was developed in order to compare games independently from genres. This was the basis for transdisciplinary cooperations, including empirical psychology, computer science and law. Furthermore it is gathering fundings for research and infrastructure, not only from european research organizations, but also from domestic media-funds.
    http://www.digarec.org/

    Representations of disability in digital games.
    Diane Carr
    I will briefly report on the project (outcomes, findings, next steps) and then move into a discussion of recent work on the idea of games as ‘assessment machines’ that run on fantasies of measurability and status. This work is informed by disablity studies, and grew out of my attempts to think through the conceptual relationship between ability and disability in specific games, the allure of assessment, and the different styles of assessment embedded in different games (Mass Effect 2, Deus Ex:Human Revolutions, Walking Dead and The Last of Us). How might the style of assessment in each case relates to a game’s themes (e.g. professionalism, duty, fatherhood)? The discussion raises questions of cultural salience (why these fantasies?) and it will be proposed that one answer lies in the authority associated with scientific practice in popular discourse.
    Earlier post on the topic of assessment, fantasy and games: https://playhouse.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/fantasy-and-salience/

    Representations, Identities, and the Politics of Play
    Ewan Kirkland

    This paper examines the ways in which identity politics function across videogame play. Issue is taken with the emphasis on the avatar as the locus of identity formations, arguing that a more productive method of analysis involves shifting focus from representation to the virtual activities in which players engage in completing game goals. Irrespective of the body being controlled, the ‘gameplay affecting characteristics’ of the avatar are prioritised in this analysis, while appreciating substantial consistencies commonly exist between the identity of the avatar and the activities they afford. Notions of ‘military masculinity’, ‘compulsory heterosexuality’ and the principle of ‘territorial domination’ are applied to issues of gender, sexuality and racial identity in games such as ‘Space Invaders’, ‘Donkey Kong’, ‘Bully’, ‘Tomb Raider’ and the ‘Silent Hill’ series . The paper concludes with a critical analysis of the colonial logic which structures ‘Little Big Planet’, and the activities inherent in participating in the game’s level creating community.
    Key Words: avatar, gameplay, gender, race, sexuality

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