Digital games are not everything there is in games, far from it. There is now a new journal, Analog Game Studies, for all of us interested in board games, table-top role-playing games, card games — I think that actually means most of contemporary game scholars. There has been long-standing discussion that the name of DiGRA should be changed to “GRA” instead (taking “Digital” away from its dominating position of games research), but information technologies sure has been a catalyst for some interesting developments in the field of game cultures, as well as in industry, of course. When there are more dedicated venues of the different forms which games and play are realized in, then we can more clearly see the universals, as well as the particularities, of these specific forms. Link: http://analoggamestudies.org/ .
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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 email@example.com Continue reading
There has been much talk about science fiction turning from its themes and milieu from the outer space adventures of “classic science fiction” to the “inner spaces” of modern sci-fi — I prefer the “ontological dominant” thesis, put forward by Brian McHale: Western fiction in general has turned away from the prior epistemological themes to ontological questions, as we have moved from modern times to the (increasingly self-reflective) post-modern ones.
This summer, I have had the rare pleasure of reading few novels that I have really enjoyed. One was the Blindsight by Peter Watts — a complex novel outwardly narrating a desperate expedition to intercept an alien artefact, which actually turns into discussion about the nature of consciousness, whether we humans are actually “conscious”, and to a what degree, and whether being “conscious” is really necessarily an evolutionary benefit. Another one was The Causal Angel by Hannu Rajaniemi — the final book in the “Jean Le Flambeur” trilogy. Also here, the ontological themes dominate: what constitutes a “world”, or a “self”, how multiple both can be, and what kind of opportunities for innovation (both scientific, as well as dramatic) will those multi-realities open up.
For a game studies scholar particularly one faction, the zoku, of this far future civilization scenario are of interest. Their culture is one that appears to descend from MMORPGs and their players, and they provide a counter-force to another posthuman group, the sobornost. The name of sobornost refers back to a concept of Orthodox Christianity, the harmonious spiritual unity, and it is interesting to note that even while the mixed, polyphonic and conflicting world of Rajamäki’s trilogy carefully avoids any simple good versus evil opposition, the opposition between “orthodoxy” and “ludic mindset”, or seriousness and playfulness perhaps, emerges as one of the clear division lines in the work. There are also many amusing references to pick up (“Saint McGonigal”, “Huizinga-zoku”, etc.) for those versed in gamification and game studies. For a Finn, the Oortians, living in the cold margins of the Solar System, carry many familiar elements, even while their culture is more like some general, archaic Finno-ugrig shamanism, than the culture of Finns themselves — just the occasional Finnish word underlines the cultural connection.
The complexities of quantum entanglements, nano-scale technologies, simulated realities and multiple-copy personalities go beyond my science literacy, but it is remarkable evidence of Hannu Rajamäki’s storytelling gifts that even this very dense novel, moving at high speed, remains genuinely interesting and even emotionally touching — a true sign of lasting value. It is finally Mieli, the female, winged Oortian fighter spirit, who becomes the true main character of this final novel, and it is also she who becomes the titular “Causal Angel”, who is capable of turning the end of the world into a new beginning. This is a book series which clearly profits from multiple readings, to appreciate its multiple threads and dimensions.
I have noticed that since I got myself the Macbook Pro Retina 13″, it has gradually been taking over my work travels, as well as being the main computer while at home. Since this Mac has been coming from my own pocket, and potentially not covered by any insurance while used in my university work, it is even more important than usual that I do not break it. To that effect, I recently made an order to the online Apple Store and got Tech21 “Impact Snap” case for MBPR13. I am not an expert on “smart materials” and can therefore not really comment on how credible the claims for their “Impactology” techniques really are, but at least it provides some peace of mind to have this around the Mac, while operating the device in the cramped environments like those in trains or aeroplanes. The matte surface of Impact Snap case makes it also easier to have a good hold on the Mac, which makes the device much more pleasurable to handle. And it comes in black.
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)