Next two weeks will be intensive time in Utrecht, the Netherlands, as “Identity and Interdisciplinarity in Games and Play Research”, the joint European Summer School of games and play studies takes place at the Utrecht University. My keynote takes place first in Monday, August 18th, and it is titled “From Interdisciplinarity to Identity and Back: The Dual Character of Academic Game Studies”. More information and full program is available at: http://www.gapsummerschool2014.nl.
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Thinking, analysing and designing Expressive Games
24-25 November 2014, METZ, FRANCE
CREM / LORIA, University of Lorraine
Proposals are expected by 1st September 2014. They must be sent in the form of an abstract of 800 – 1000 words (excluding bibliography). Each proposal shall indicate the last name, the first name, the status and the institution the author is affiliated to.
All proposals should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org Continue reading
Please find attached the Call for Papers for the Games and Literary Theory 2014 conference, taking place in Amsterdam in November 20-22, 2014. The deadline for abstracts (250-500 words) is August 1, 2014. CFP link: Final CFP International Conference Series in Games and Literary Theory.
I will be presenting a keynote in YTP2014 (Yhdistetyt tietojenkäsittelyn päivät / The Federated Computer Science Event of Finland) in Tuesday, 3 June 2014. My talk is titled “The Multidisciplinary Study of Games: An Academic Discipline, or A Research Field without an Identity?” and I will be discussing some of the findings from my earlier, sociology of knowledge style work, as well as touching upon some of the interesting themes discussed in the Critical Evaluation of Game Studies seminar in April. Program link: http://www2.it.lut.fi/ytp2014/ohjelma.
8th International Conference on the Philosophy of Computer Games
Freedom in Play
Istanbul, 13-15 November 2014
Abstracts deadline: 15 August 2014
We hereby invite scholars in any field of studies who take a professional interest in the philosophy of computer games to submit papers to the 8th International Conference on the Philosophy of Computer Games, to be held in Istanbul 13-15 November 2014.
The concept of freedom is central in the shaping of game experiences and game cultures. It is a lens through which we can critically evaluate the philosophical, cultural and political relevance of computer games, as an art form and as a way of life. This year we especially invite papers that address the following areas of philosophical investigation:
1. The nature of freedom in games. Which philosophical concepts can help us clarify ontological and metaphysical dimensions of freedom in games and gaming?
2. The experience of freedom in games. How do we describe and evaluate specific experiences of freedom in play? Are certain types of freedoms in games artistically or ethically more desirable than others? In what way may such evaluations collide when people play together, especially in an on-line context?
3. Games and existential concepts of freedom. In what ways are games capable of expressing truths about the human condition? Is there a way in which they are inherently more or less capable of expressing ethical and normative truths than cinema, photography or art? How do we account for the semantic underpinnings of how games can create this sort of knowledge?
4. Political and ethical freedom. In what way can game mechanics or the social roles of gaming provide normative reasons for decision-making with regard to political freedom, gender issues, etc? Do computer games have a particular potential for being either politically conservative, progressive or subversive?
Accepted papers will have a clear focus on philosophy and philosophical issues in relation to computer games. They will refer to specific examples from computer games rather than merely invoke them in general terms.
In addition to papers that are directed at the main theme we invite a smaller number of papers in an “open” category. We are especially interested in papers that aim to continue discussions from earlier conferences in this series.
The abstracts should have a maximum 1000 words including bibliography. Please note if you intend your paper to fit in the “open” category. The deadline for submissions is Midnight GMT, 15 August, 2014. Please submit your abstract through review.gamephilosophy.org. All submitted abstracts will be subject to double blind peer review. Notification of accepted submissions will be sent out by 15 September 2014. A full paper draft must then be submitted by 6th November 2014 and will be made available on the conference website.
We also invite proposals for panels/workshops on October 12th. Please contact the programme committee chair if you are interested in organising one.
Tonguc Ibrahim Sezen, Istanbul Bilgi University (organising committee chair)
Rune Klevjer, University of Bergen (programme committee chair)
Peter Gabriel had his Back to Front tour concert in Helsinki yesterday, which I had the rare pleasure to take part in. I have followed the career and music of Peter for decades, but this was the first live performance I have been in. Even while you count in the music videos and concert DVDs, the real, live concert still remains a different kind of thing.
Since the days of Genesis, Peter Gabriel has been one of the real innovators of rock music, and his solo career has included both chart-leading pop music hits, as well as sombre, politically motivated material, and more experimental music. (My personal favorites include e.g. “Passion”, the album including music produced for The Last Temptation of Christ, the film by Martin Scorsese.) This concert was focused on revisiting his most popular album, “So” (1987), but was in reality much more.
The concert is built into three parts: the first, acoustic session was styled to be more like a band in rehersal (with the harsh, full arena lights shining on the band and the audience). This session included the semi-improvisational opening song, as well as classics such as “Shock the Monkey” (1982). The second part (the more “savoury course”, as Peter introduced in his metaphor of a three-course meal), provided full-blown electronica — distorted guitar and percussion effects, accompanied by black-and-white, often stroboscopic video projections and stage lightning. The colours were introduced only at the final, third part, where all the songs from “So” were played, in their original, recorded order. This was the “dessert”, as introduced by Peter.
It would be easy to be critical about the lack of innovation in the later part of Peter Gabriel, and see the reworking of the hit album in rather trite, commercial terms. For my part, I could only wish to have similar levels of creativity and experimental spirit left at the age of 64. The adaptations of Gabriel’s classic materials were often surprising, and challenged the listener to reconsider his or her previous understanding of the song. Some, reflective parts of the concert were truly touching and moving, some were just staggering, powerful rock experiences. Great concert, overall!
The Critical Evaluation of Game Studies seminar closed today, leaving a full house of tired but intellectually stimulated games scholars to debate and reflect on the outcomes and overall synthesis of the varied papers and discussions. One of the threads of the discussion concerned the identity and character of Game Studies (or “game studies”, or: games research? Or: ludology, even?) In his keynote, Espen Aarseth talked about Game Studies as a field, and argued (with explicit comment against my earlier published views) that a “discipline” is something that he particularly does not want to see Game Studies developing into.
This particular, anti-disciplinary view can in a way be grounded on the existing polyphony in this field: there has not emerged any single, unified school of thought that would encompass everything that is going around games and play in academia. On the other hand, one could also – again following Espen – argue that a discipline that produces its own undergraduates as well as postgraduates would need a more solid methodological basis, and also more established work market to guarantee the employment of such “native graduates”. (Sebastian Deterding had an interesting analysis and proposal in his paper, suggesting that since there are not much guarantees of employment, or not so many well-established publication venues in the “core” areas of Game Studies, people are escaping back to more established academic fields, such as HCI or Communication Studies, which have already opened up for games related research, and provide more institutional work opportunities – and that Game Studies should merge with Design Research so that it would have better opportunities for survival.) Or, one could follow Bart Simon who in his speech talked about the “unseriousness” inherent in games and play as an object of study, and go against the instrumentalization and reification of disciplinary knowledge by principle.
While I see the point of all these, well-grounded arguments, I just want to emphasize again that Game Studies needs both dimensions and movements: both the elements that pull people towards each other and focus at organizing the knowledge production and educational activities in Game Studies into some, hopefully rather unified wholes, as well as more interdisciplinary elements that fertilize and stimulate the growth of new approaches and innovations – both within Game Studies, as well as in other fields of learning. While there is enough anarchist in most game scholars today to make us stand up and go against any attempt at governance or “central control” in this daring, iconoclastic intellectual project that has been set into motion, it is also important, I think, to carry enough responsibility to aim at positive conditions for such project, and sometimes this will also require setting up “disciplinary versions” of the fast-moving research field, so that it can engage with various academic institutions and neighbouring disciplines at even terms. While such “freeze frame” simplifications of the field probably always do some violence to the plurality, coverage and dynamism of Game Studies, they are probably necessary illusions that we also need. Textbooks, lectures and articles are all good places to construct such, identity creating moments of Game Studies, as well as for deconstructing and questioning them. After the seminar, I think that the deconstructionist momentum is currently stronger than the constructivist one, but it just may be my impression.
In any case, I came out of the seminar invigorated and energized, believing even more that before to the need and enormous potential Game Studies has to offer, not only to academia, but also to the surrounding society. If we do not try to fit together and negotiate the multiple aspects that complicate the superficial, commonplace perceptions of what games are, or what game playing means, who is going to do that? Also, I do not think that the other academic disciplines that I know about are that much more unified, or less polyphonic than Game Studies is, actually. As years and decades go past, academics tend to question the truths of their fields from multiple angles, and come up with dozens of different, mutually competing and incompatible theories and approaches into their fields of inquiry. And that is a very good thing. Long live Game Studies, one and many!
*Version française à la suite de l’appel en anglais*
Call for papers
From « Traditional » Games to Digital Games
26, 27 & 28 November 2014
IUT Nancy Charlemagne, 2 TER BD Charlemagne, 54000 Nancy, France
University of Lorraine, CREM (Centre for Research on mediation)
Since the early 2000’s, the importance of studying digital games has increased to take a significant place in the academic literature dedicated to entertaining phenomena, to such a point that many articles offering to make an inventory of current “game studies” primarily focus on work related to games on this media (Rueff, 2008, Zabban, 2012). In fact, if current digital games are the topic of many conferences, books and magazines, discussions on non-digital games seem less present, even though they constantly develop. Yet, for more than a century, researchers from multiple disciplines have occasionally contributed to the understanding of these more “classical” games. In the field of Mathematics and Economy, for instance, this work brought forth the famous game theory (von Neumann & Morgenstern, 1944, Nash, 1951). Mention can also be made of anthropological and sociological discussions led by Johan Huizinga and Roger Caillois, which are still references. Similarly, since the 80’s, role playing games (Caira, 2007, Bowman, 2010), wargames (von Hilgers, 2008 Sabin, 2012) and board games (Schädler, 2007, Hinebaugh, 2009) gave rise to frequent publications.
In this context, we cannot ignore the fact that work aimed at conceiving and studying digital games is also regularly referred to as reflections on (non-digital) “traditional” games, whether to build their theoretical framework (Frasca, 2001; Salen&Zimmerman, 2004), or to conduct comparative and contrastive studies (Trémel, 2001). According to us, this kind of mutual lighting encourages researchers to examine the peculiarities and complementarities of the two areas, as well as the theoretical interest of connecting or of confronting them. Therefore, in order to analyse the relations established between “traditional” games and digital games, this call is divided into five themes that give a broad overview of the different kinds of possible links. All types of research, fundamental or applied, as well as disciplinary approaches are welcome. They can be part of one of the five themes listed below (non-exclusive).
1. Adapting games: complementarities and structural or thematic differences
Since the first computers were introduced, traditional games have consistently been adapted (scrabble, chess, card games, pinball machines, etc.), it is not uncommon today to see reverse adaptation (Angry Birds, Doom, World of Warcraft, etc.). In a way or another, these adaptations bring forth the issue of processes shaping the rules, but also the issue of fictional universes in order to take into account the specificities of the support. We will consider in particular:
- similarities or dissimilarities of entertaining mechanisms of interactions through an adaptation,
- shaping of temporal aspects of the game (time, time management, representation of time , etc.)
- management of spatial aspects (space representation, playground)
- different types of universes games make reference to, as well as the singularity of their formatting depending on the support,
- narrative mechanisms implemented
- changes to accompanying sounds or music in the games
2. Paratexts and paraliterature in games
In the digital game, just like in the traditional game, the paratext occupies a central place in the (aesthetic, cognitive) apprehension of the object. The notion of paratext should be understood in the broad sense, covering for example, arcade cabinets, box illustrations for video games, but also manuals and rule books, publications (amateur or professional), or even novels derived from entertaining universes. What is the result of connecting video games’ paratext to more traditional games? We shall therefore particularly focus on the following:
- games as a literary subcategory (rule book of a game, novels from a game, strategic analysis book of a game and its gameplay, etc. . )
- analysis of specialized press (magazines and newspapers targeting a certain category of games)
- objects with a speech on the game (game boxes, rules and game support, goodies, websites, forums, etc. )
- promotional communication of games
3. Values and rhetoric of games
From traditional to digital games (or vice versa), what are the continuities and changes made in terms of rhetoric and values? If the notion of procedural rhetoric is common in the analysis of the transmission of a speech about the world through the video game, is it transposable as such for non-digital games? These questions encourage exploring the similarities and differences of digital and traditional games on:
- analysis of the speech developed by game
- rhetoric of pictures embedded in games
- evolution of values proposed by games over time
- study of worldviews conveyed by games
- analysis of the existing relationships between sports and e- sports,
4. Design logic, play logic, public
It relates to the organization of the game development and its public (those ones that are mentioned, or imagined, during the design phase, those who practice, etc). What are the features and the similarities between the design and the acceptance of traditional games and digital games? What are the radical changes in the process of designing a digital game vs another kind of game? Is their public apprehended the same way? Are these two broad categories of games received in an equivalent manner? How do their specific editorial and commercial constraints structure their content? Proposals on these topics will explore the connections and the differences that define traditional games as well as digital games regarding:
- the design process
- reception and appropriation approaches
- game categories and sociocultural categories of players
- editorial and commercial constraints
5. Application and game diversions
With respect to traditional as well as in digital games, entertaining events have always been implemented in multiple sectors. But is the feature creep of a digital game more efficient than the misappropriation of a traditional game? In the context of a serious application, when should a traditional game be implemented in digital format or vice versa? In either case of adaptation, what are the benefits or the drawbacks to consider? Proposals on this theme should aim at determining contributions, failures, successes in the transition from traditional games to digital games, when we use it for another function than leisure. We can focus on:
- support to acquisition of knowledge and strategic decision making
- creation and innovation
- support to mediation and remediation
- support to communication and promotion
- education and training
Keynote speaker: Espen AARSETH, Principal Researcher, Center for Computer Games Research (IT University, Copenhagen).
We are happy to announce Espen Aarseth as keynote speaker during the conference. Espen Aarseth is an international reference in the field of game studies. He is co-founder and chief editor of the GameStudies.org journal; the first international journal devoted entirely to digital games. He is also author of Cybertext: Perspectives on ergodic literature (Johns Hopkins UP, 1997), he was a pioneer in analysis of digital literature and the comparative approach between video games and other forms of expression.
The conference will be held on Nancy on 26, 27 & 28 November 2014, in Nancy.
Proposals are expected by 15 April 2014. They must be sent in the form of an abstract of 5000-6000 typefaces (without spaces, excluding bibliography), specifying the conceptual framework, methodology and the field of study. Each proposal shall also indicate the last name, the first name, the status and the institution the author is affiliated to.
Proposals should be sent to:
Proposals will be anonymously assessed by the scientific committee (notification of acceptance June 2014).
The selected authors will have the possibility to submit their full-text that will be “double blind” assessed for publication. A publication as a special issue of Kinephanos.ca, online journal, will follow after the conference for the proposals in english. For the proposals in French, a publication as a special issue of Sciencesdujeu.org, online journal, will follow after the conference.
Conference languages are French and English.
Bowman, Sarah Lynne (2010), The Functions of Role-Playing Games: How Participants Create Community, Solve Problems and Explore Identity, McFarland & Company, London, 208 p.
Caïra, Olivier (2007), Jeux de rôle : Les forges de la fiction, CNRS Editions, Paris, 312 p.
Frasca, Gonzalo (2001), Videogames of the oppressed : videogames as a mean for critical thinking and debate, Master Thesis, Georgia Institute of technology.
Hinebaugh, Jeffrey (2009) A board game education, Rowman & Littlefield Publishing group, Lanham, 223 p.
Morgenstern, Oskar & Von Neumann, John (1944) Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, Princeton University Press, 1944, Princeton, 641 p.
Nash, John (1951) « Non-cooperative games », Annals of Mathematics, vol. 54, p. 286–295.
Rueff, Julien (2008), « Où en sont les « game studies » ? », Réseaux 5/2008 (n° 151), p. 139-166.
Sabin, Philip (2012) Simulating war: studying conflict through simulation games, Continuum International Publishing Group, London, 363 p.
Salen, Katie & Zimmerman, Eric (2003), Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, MIT Press, Cambridge, 688 p.
Schädler Ulrich (2007), Jeux de l’humanité : 5000 ans d’histoire culturelle des jeux de société, Slatkine, Genève, 222 p.
Trémel, Laurent (2001), Jeux de rôles, jeux vidéo, multimédia, les faiseurs de mondes, Paris, Presses universitaires de France.
Von Hilgers, Philipp (2008), War games: a history of war on paper, MIT Press, Cambridge, 220 p.
Zabban, Vinciane (2012), « Retour sur les game studies. Comprendre et dépasser les approches formelles et culturelles du jeu vidéo », Réseaux 3/2012 (n° 173-174), p. 137-176.
David BUCHHEIT (Université de Lorraine, CREM laboratory),
Delphine BUZY (Université de Lorraine, CREM laboratory),
Victor CAYRES (Federal University of Bahia),
Laurent DI FILIPPO (Université de Lorraine, CREM laboratory),
Sébastien GENVO (Université de Lorraine, CREM laboratory),
Stéphane GORIA (Université de Lorraine, CREM laboratory),
Catherine KELLNER (Université de Lorraine, CREM laboratory),
Josette LINDER (Université de Lorraine, CREM laboratory),
Alain MULLER (Université de Lorraine, CREM laboratory),
Emmanuelle SIMON (Université de Lorraine, CREM laboratory),
Pauline THÉVENOT (Université de Lorraine, CREM laboratory),
Vincent THOMAS (Université de Lorraine, LORIA laboratory).
Espen AARSETH, Principal researcher, IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark,
Lynn ALVES, Professor, State university of Bahia, Brasil,
Alexis BLANCHET, Professor, University of Paris III, France,
Vincent BERRY, Professor, University of Paris XIII, France,
Gilles BROUGERE, Professor, University of Paris XIII, France,
Sébastien GENVO, Professor, Université de Lorraine, France,
Bertrand GERVAIS, Professor, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada,
Stéphane GORIA, Professor, Université de Lorraine, France,
Catherine KELLNER, Professor, Université de Lorraine, France,
Pascaline LORENTZ, postdoctoral fellow, Masaryk University, Czech Republic,
Frans MÄYRA, Professor, University of Tampere, Finland,
Luís Carlos PETRY, Professor, Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, Brasil.
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