Workshop in Singapore

I will spend the next week visiting Singapore, where Vivian Chen, from Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information in Nanyang Technological University has put together an interesting international seminar focused on games and play, particularly from the perspective of eSports phenomena. Together with several esteemed colleagues, I also will give a talk there; mine is titled “Evolution and Tensions in Gaming Communities”.

Since I have not found the full program online, I will share the most recent draft that I have, below (this might be a ‘by-invitation-only’ event, though?) – looking forward to interesting dialogues, with academic researchers, gamers and practitioners, alike:

Digital Colosseums: Competitive Video Gaming as Mass Entertainment

Workshop/Conference Schedule (draft, as of 01 Feb 2018)

Day 1: 8th February 2018
0900 Registration
0930 Opening and Introduction


Prof. KK Luke, Nanyang Technological University

Associate Prof. Vivian Chen, Nanyang Technological University



Max Sjöblom, Tampere University of Technology


e-Sports: The New Face of Game Media

–        e-Sports as a concept and phenomenon has existed for close to 20 years, but only in recent years has e-sports transitioned to the mainstream, partially due to another emerging form of online media: game streaming and game video production. The talk will focus around three main topics.


Firstly, the general concept of e-sports will be presented, and we will explore the motivations for consuming e-sports, both online and through live attendance. This will be based on quantitative research published in venues such as Computers in Human Behavior and Internet Research, conducted by Sjöblom.


Secondly, we will delve into the world of game streaming (Twitch) and game videos (YouTube), from both the producer and consumer side. We will look at consumption motivations from the consumer side, while from the producer side, we will investigate the affordances used by producers, as well as the motivating factors behind their behavior.


Thirdly, we will go into more speculative thoughts about the future of e-sports and game media.



1015 Coffee break


Mia Consalvo, Concordia University


The business and culture of live streaming on Twitch: Evolving paradigms

–        This talk draws from a multi-year investigation of live streaming on the internet site, where individuals can broadcast themselves playing videogames to a global audience. This investigation began with a seemingly simple question: how does live streaming change the act of gameplay?


To find answers, a team of researchers has identified and viewed dozens of streamers and hundreds of hours of gameplay, interviewed both casual and committed streamers, including those who see it as their full time job as well as a hobby, live streamed their own gameplay to understand the affordances and constraints of the process, and also investigated the larger culture of live streaming and the business of Twitch and its related industry.


This research — and the talk — explain how live streaming is a constantly evolving practice and Twitch itself is a key business engaged in monetizing play in particular ways. It examines who streams and why, how gameplay practices like success, failure, skill and persistence are re-shaped by live streaming, and how the business practices of not just Twitch but related companies are re-forming play and players in concerning ways. These practices are related to the rise of the gig economy and precarious labor more broadly, as well as the increasing role of technology and always online connectivity in our daily lives.



1100 PANEL 1 (Industry)


Facilitator Intro

–        Ryan Tan – eSports Director (Avalon), Coach and Manager (Duskbin eSports), Community Manager (Garena)


The role of online streaming and casting in e-sports

–        Mohan “Lorec” Deitrich – e-sports media and stream manager

–        Leonard “OMO” Loh – e-sports caster and team manager

–        Ruth Lim (SCOGA Coach)

–        Maria Kristin Braberry – Competitive Gamer (Asterisk*) and Narrative Designer (BattleBrew Productions)



1230 Lunch


Nicholas Khoo – Chairman & Co-Founder, SCOGA


e-sports in Singapore



Steven “Amzeyy” Koh – Avalon eSports Pro-gamer


e-sports in SEA



Amitesh Rao, Nova Games


The challenges of building e-sports communities in emerging markets

–        India is a country with over a billion people, 4 million active PC gamers, and nearly 100 million mobile gamers. Yet the gaming industry remains embryonic, fragmented and largely undeveloped. E-sports in particular has been touted to be the next big thing for several years now but has yet to garner the attention, engagement and viewership that insiders in the industry have been hoping for.


There are several challenges which I believe are not unique to India but to several emerging economies that are keeping the inflection point at bay — infrastructural, economic, and cultural. This presentation will investigate some of the challenges, and possible solutions to them that are needed to build healthy, robust and self-sustaining eSports communities in emerging markets.

1530 Tea/Refreshment break
1600 PANEL 2: Bridging research and practices


–        Leonard “OMO” Loh – e-sports caster and team manager

–        Ruth Lim (SCOGA Coach)

–        Nicholas Khoo – Chairman & Co-Founder, SCOGA

–        Steven “Amzeyy” Koh – Avalon eSports Pro-gamer

–        Maria Braberry – Pro-gamer & Narrative Designer

–        Amitesh Rao, Nova Games

–        Mia Consalvo, Concordia University

–        Max Sjoblom, Tampere University of Technology

–        Olli Tapio Leino, City University of Hong Kong


Facilitators: Vivian Chen and Ryan Tan

1700 Closing remarks & Photo taking
1800 Networking dinner


Day 2: 9th February 2018
0930 Registration & Opening

Vivian Chen, NTU



Frans Mäyrä, University of Tampere


Evolution and Tensions in Gaming Communities

–        e-Sports is one of the most notable social phenomena around digital games in the 21st century. There are large audiences involved; e.g., it was reported that the “Intel Extreme Masters World Championship 2017” event reached more than 46 million unique online viewers, and that there were more than 173,000 attendees participating live in Katowice, Poland. But are these phenomena rooted, or promoting genuine community formation — and what constitutes a “gaming community”, more generally?


In his talk, Professor Frans Mäyrä will have a look at research and outline whether games are capable of supporting true communities, and talk about the consequences of such gaming communities or social formations, including both game-internal consequences, and for societal life, outside of the gaming reality. Referring to some recent studies about game playing in culture and society, and of e-sports, the talk will conclude with reflections about the multifaceted character of participation in game cultures, also dealing with the tensions and potential for cultural conflicts that it can contain.



1015 Coffee break


Olli Tapio Leino, City University of Hong Kong


Commodified technological play/work: eSports, free-to-play, and gamification

–        Traditional theories of play (e.g., Huizinga, Fink, Callois, Suits) consider play as free, frivolous, and creative experimentation, non-productive and risk-free in regard to anything apart from itself. For example, Fink described play as an “oasis of happiness”, offering a respite to individuals burdened by hardships of productive activities. Through encounters with contemporary forms of “commodified play”, such as e-sports, free-to-play games, and gamification applications, computer game studies has come to terms with the fact that the traditional notions of games, play, and playing appear romantic, and may not always be applicable for the purpose of defining and describing contemporary forms of technological play.


In more detail, on the one hand, the technological materiality of computer games does not always afford the creative self-discovery at the heart of play and may instead give rise only to rote repetition formally indistinguishable from unskilled work.  On the other hand, the ways in which contemporary forms of computer gaming are culturally and economically entangled with useful endeavors in society renders inapplicable the description of play as non-productive.


In this talk, I draw upon the recent research on computer games by myself and my collaborators, including mixed-method ethnography on gamers, research for public policy on gaming, and, textual-hermeneutic studies of computer games. I describe how contemporary forms of commodified play challenge the traditional definitions and descriptions of play, how gamers negotiate the slippage between play and work in their experiences, and, how the society is beginning to embrace this new, productive form of play/work.





Patrick Williams, NTU, and Csilla Weninger, NIE


Youth Cultures and Careers in Singapore’s Emerging Digital Economies

–        In this brief talk, we will share some emerging plans related to the entrepreneurial activities through which young Singaporeans leverage digital media to combine their leisure interests with productive labor. Examples of such entrepreneurial activities include e-sports participation, livestreaming and uploading gameplay, various forms of vlogging from health and fitness to unboxing videos, and establishing social influence through social media platforms. Our research questions deal with three sets of concerns: connections between entrepreneurial youth cultures and larger socio-cultural processes and structures; processes of defining and learning appropriate digital media skills; and the social and personal outcomes of these entrepreneurial activities. In the talk, we will tie these concerns existing theory and research on youth cultures and digital literacies, as well as explain some of methodological choices.



1230 Lunch
1330 BREAKOUT GROUPS (to be planned at discussion session)
1530 Closing


Vivian Chen, NTU

1600 Tea/Refreshment


Organised by Vivian Chen and WKWSCI

Supported by the Centre for Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the NTU College for Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

Game researcher positions: CoE GameCult

There are several games researcher positions open right now: the Academy of Finland has granted funding for the new Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies (CoE GameCult: 2018-2025 CoE Program), and there are currently 5 Postdoc or University Researcher (a senior researcher) positions available for application in the University of Tampere Game Research Lab (in UTA/COMS/TRIM). The total number of new researcher positions is larger, as there will be additional calls opening within the same CoE in the University of Jyväskylä and Turku/Pori Unit. There is general text of the call here:
and link to the UTA recruitment system here:

DiGRA 2018 CFP: The Game is the Message

The Game is the Message

July 25-28, 2018

Campus Luigi Einaudi, Università di Torino, Turin, Italy
Lungo Dora Siena, 100 A, 10153 Turin, Italy

Conference chairs: Riccardo Fassone and Matteo Bittanti

Games have long since moved out of the toy drawer, but our understanding of them can still benefit from seeing them in a wider context of mediated meaning-making. DiGRA 2018 follows Marshall McLuhan, and sees games as extensions of ourselves. They recalibrate our senses and redefine our social relationships. The environments they create are more conspicuous than their content. They are revealing, both of our own desires and of the society within which we live. Their message is their effect. Games change us.

To explore this change, we invite scholars, artists and industry to engage in discussions over the following tracks:

– Platforms
Game platforms invite new textualities, new technologies and new networks of power relations. Game structures, their integration with and use of the technology, as well as the affordances and restrictions offered by the platforms on which they live, influence our experience of them.

– Users
Games invite new relations between their users, and players strive for and achieve new modes of perception. This reconfigures our attention, and establishes new patterns and forms of engagement.

– Meaning-making
The connection between a game and its content is often interchangeable – a game is clearly recognizable even if the surface fiction is changed. But games still produce meanings and convey messages. We ask, what are the modes of signification and the aesthetic devices used in games? In this context we particularly invite authors to look at games that claim to be about serious topics or deal with political and social issues.

– Meta-play
The playing of the game has become content, and we invite authors to explore spectatorship, streaming, allied practices and hybrid media surrounding play and the players. How can we describe and examine the complex interweaving of practices found in these environments?

– Context
Games are subject to material, economic and cultural constraints. This track invites reflection on how these contingencies as well as production tools, industry and business demands and player interventions contribute to the process of signification.

– Poetics
Games are created within constraints, affordances, rules and permissions which give us a frame in which games generate meaning. Games have voice, a language, and they do speak. This is the poetics of games, and we invite our fellows to explore and uncover it.

– General
Games tend to break out of the formats given them, and so for this track we invite the outstanding abstracts, papers and panels on alternative topics to the pre-determined tracks.

We invite full papers, 5000 – 7000 words plus references using the DiGRA 2018 submission template (, extended abstracts (from 500 words, maximum 1000, excluding references), and panel submissions (1000 words excluding references, with a 100 word biography of each participant). Full papers will be subject to a double-blind peer review. Extended abstracts will be blinded and peer reviewed by committees organised by the track chairs. Panels will be reviewed by the track chairs and the program chairs. General inquiries should be addressed to Riccardo Fassone – riccardo.fassone AT Artist contributions, industry contributions, performances or non-standard presentations should be addressed to Matteo Bittanti – matteo.bittanti AT .

Submission will be opened December 1st, 2017, and the final deadline for submission is January 31st 2018. The URL for submissions is .

Program chairs are
Martin Gibbs, martin.gibbs AT, University of Melbourne, Australia
Torill Elvira Mortensen, toel AT, IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Important dates:
Submission opens: December 1st, 2017
Final submission deadline: January 31st, 2018
Results from reviews: March 1st, 2018
Early registration deadline: March 15th, 2018
Reviewed and rewritten full papers final deadline: April 15th, 2018

CFP: Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries 2018

Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries calls for submissions for its 2018 conference in Helsinki, Finland, 7–9 March 2018.

Keynote speakers
Kathryn Eccles, University of Oxford,
– Academic Programme Manager for Digital Humanities and Research Fellow at Oxford Internet Institute with interest in the impact of new technologies on Humanities scholarship, and the re-organisation of cultural heritage and higher education in the digital world.

Alan Liu, University of California, Santa Barbara,
– Distinguished Professor in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an affiliated faculty member of UCSB’s Media Arts & Technology graduate program.

Frans Mäyrä, University of Tampere,
– Professor of Information Studies and Interactive Media (specifically digital culture and game studies)

In 2018, the conference seeks to extend the scope of digital humanities research covered, both into new areas, as well as beyond the Nordic and Baltic countries. In pursuit of this, in addition to the abstracts familiar from humanities traditions, we also adopt a call for publication ready texts as is the tradition in computer science conferences. Therefore, we accept the following types of submissions:
1. Publication ready texts of length appropriate to the topic. Accepted papers will be submitted to the CEUR-WS proceedings series for publication in a citable form.
a. Long paper: 8-12 pages, presented in 20 min plus 10 min for Q&A
b. Short paper: 4-8 pages, presented in 10 min plus 5 min for Q&A
c. Poster/demo: 2-4 pages, presented as an A1 academic poster in a poster session.
2. Abstracts of a maximum of 2000 words. Proposals are expected to indicate a preference between a) long, b) short, or c) poster/demo format for presentation. Approved abstracts will be published in a book of abstracts on the conference website.

Submissions to the conference are now open at ConfTool:

Important dates
The call for proposals opened on 28 August 2017, and the deadline for submitting proposals is 25 October 2017. Presenters will be notified of acceptance by 8 January 2018. For papers accepted into the citable proceedings, there is an additional deadline of 5 February 2018 for producing a final version of your paper that takes into account the comments made by the reviewers.

This year, the conference welcomes in particular work related to the following themes:

While the number of researchers describing themselves as digital historians is increasing, computational approaches to history have rarely captured the attention of those without innate interest in digital humanities. To address this, we particularly invite presentations of historical research whose use of digital methods advances the overall methodological basis of the field.

Cultural Heritage
Libraries, galleries, archives and museums are making vast amounts of cultural heritage openly digitally available. However, tapping into these resources for research requires cultivating co-operation and trust between scholars and heritage institutions, due to the cultural, institutional, legal and technical boundaries crossed. We invite proposals describing such co-operation – examples of great resources for cultural heritage scholarship, of problems solved using such data, as well as e.g. intellectual property rights issues.

Humanities perspectives on games are an established part of the game studies community. Yet their relationship with digital humanities remains undefined. Digitality and games, digital methods and games, games as digital methods, and so on are all areas available for research. We invite proposals that address high-level game concepts like “fun”, “immersion”, “design”, “interactivity”, etc positioned as points of contact with the digital.

We also invite proposals in the broad category of ”Future”. Accepted proposals will still fit in the overall context of the conference and highlight new perspectives to the digital humanities. Submissions may range from applications of data science to humanities research to work on human-machine interaction and ecological digital humanities. We also welcome reflections on the future of the digital humanities, as well as the societal impact of the humanities.

Finally, the overarching theme this year is Open Science. This pragmatic concept emphasises the role of transparent and reproducible research practices, open dissemination of results, and new forms of collaboration, all greatly facilitated by digitalisation. All proposals are invited to reflect on the benefits, challenges, and prospects of open science for their own research.

Call for workshops/panels and tutorials
In addition to individual papers, the conference calls for interested parties to submit proposals for workshops/panels and tutorial sessions to be held preceding the conference. Workshops/panels gather together participants around a particular subtopic, while tutorials present a useful tool or method of interest to the digital humanities community. Either can take the form of either a half or a full day session, and they generally take place the day prior to the conference.

Proposals should include the session format, title, and a short description of its topic (max 2000 words) as well as the contact information of the person/s responsible. Proposals should also include the following: intended audience, approximate number of participants, and any special technical requirements.

Submit your workshop/tutorial at the conference ConfTool:

Organisers at HELDIG – the Helsinki Centre for Digital Humanities at the University of Helsinki, the Faculty of Arts include Mikko Tolonen (conference chair,, Eetu Mäkelä (programme chair,, Viivi Lähteenoja (conference producer,, Maija Paavolainen (communications chair,, Jouni Tuominen (web chair,, and Eero Hyvönen (HELDIG director,

Special Issue: Reflecting and Evaluating Game Studies – Games & Culture

This is now published:

Games & Culture:
Volume 12, Issue 6, September 2017
Special Issue: Reflecting and Evaluating Game Studies

Guest Editors: Frans Mäyrä and Olli Sotamaa


Need for Perspective:
Introducing the Special Issue “Reflecting and Evaluating Game Studies”
by Frans Mäyrä & Olli Sotamaa
(Free Access:

The Game Definition Game: A Review
by Jaakko Stenros

The Pyrrhic Victory of Game Studies: Assessing the Past, Present, and Future of Interdisciplinary Game Research
by Sebastian Deterding

How to Present the History of Digital Games: Enthusiast, Emancipatory, Genealogical, and Pathological Approaches
by Jaakko Suominen

What We Know About Games: A Scientometric Approach to Game Studies in the 2000s
by Samuel Coavoux, Manuel Boutet & Vinciane Zabban

What Is It Like to Be a Player? The Qualia Revolution in Game Studies
by Ivan Mosca

by Bart Simon

Many thanks to all the authors, reviewers, and the staff of the journal!

Keynote, EDEN 2017 – Diversity Matters!

EDEN 2017 keynote, Frans Mäyrä
EDEN 2017 keynote, Frans Mäyrä

Next week, I will take part in EDEN 2017 – the annual conference of the European Distance and E-Learning Network – in Jönköping, Sweden. I am proud to present an invited keynote in the first conference day, 14th June. Titled “Multidimensional Ludic Literacy: Diversity in Game Cultures” my talk is aimed to build bridges between the multiple dimensions needed to understand and constructively engage with games and play (the ludic literacy), and the issues related to diversity in game cultures. Looking forward to an interesting exchange of ideas. (Btw, this is also the first public appearance of the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies logo – test driving it: the CoE officially starts its operational period from January 2018.)

See the full conference program here: