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
(http://journals.sagepub.com/toc/gaca/12/6)

Guest Editors: Frans Mäyrä and Olli Sotamaa

Articles

Need for Perspective:
Introducing the Special Issue “Reflecting and Evaluating Game Studies”
by Frans Mäyrä & Olli Sotamaa
(Free Access: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1555412016672780)

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

Unserious
by Bart Simon

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

CFP: DiGRA 2017, Australia

Call for Participation DiGRA2017: The 10th Digital Games Research Association Conference

We are delighted to announce the Call for Participation for DiGRA 2017, to be held July 3-6 2017, at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia.

DiGRA 2017 will bring together a diverse international community of interdisciplinary researchers engaged in cutting edge research in the field of game studies. DiGRA 2017 is supported by Swinburne University of Technology, RMIT, The University of Sydney and The University of Melbourne. The conference welcomes submissions on a wide range of topics associated with studies of games and play.

For an expanded CFP see the conference website: www.digra2017.com.

Important Dates
– Submission date (workshops): 20 January 2017
– Acceptance/rejection notification (workshops): 27 January 2017
– Submission date (all submissions except workshops): 26 February 2017 (hard deadline)
– Acceptance/rejection notification (all submissions except workshops): 25 March 2017
– Camera ready: 15 April 2017 Conference dates: 3-6 July 2017

Submission Types
We welcome a range of contributions to DiGRA2017. These include, full papers, extended abstracts, panel and workshop proposals, doctorial consortium participation as well as proposals for events and other activities that fall outside the academic tradition.

Full papers will be peer-reviewed, published on the conference website and in the conference proceedings available on open-access through the DiGRA digital library.

All other submissions will be reviewed by the conference organization committee. These submissions will be published on the conference website, but will not be included in the conference proceedings published through the DiGRA library.

For an expanded CFP see the conference website: www.digra2017.com.

Year in review – my 2015 in game studies

The year 2015 was a busy year, and hard to summarise as it feels like there never really was any time to stop and reflect; thus I welcome this short review note as such opportunity. Much of my time this year was spent on administrative things, related processes, projects, work contracts and plans of restructuring at the multiple levels of the Finnish university system, Tampere 3 university fusion, internal University of Tampere structures, the School of Information Sciences, our degree programmes and the IGS master’s degree programme, TRIM as the research centre and our Game Research Lab, and its individual research projects and other work.

In terms of published research, it was delightful to follow how many interesting book projects were finished and came out during 2015 (many of these are already out and available, even if their official publication year is 2016). Particularly the Routledge Advances in Game Studies series was in high gear, as several important research volumes were published there; my research articles were included in The Dark Side of Game Play, The Video Game Debate and Video Game Policy books. (There were other important books in the series, too, including Rachel Kowert’s Video Games and Social Competence, and Ashley ML Brown’s Sexuality in Role-Playing Games.) For more, see: https://www.routledge.com/series/RAIGS My own work included analysing the subversive uses of chidren’s games, exploring the gaming communities, and (together with Gareth Schott) re-conceptualizing game violence.

In other published work, I was proud to be part of the editorial board of Finnish Yearbook of Game Studies (Pelitutkimuksen vuosikirja; with the new editor-in-chief Raine Koskimaa), have in-depth analyses of our game researcher survey study come out in esteemed Journal of Communication (Thorsten Quandt, Jan Van Looy as the main authors in this article). I also published a historically oriented overview of Finnish games and game culture in the Video Games Around the World volume, edited by the amazingly productive Mark Wolf for the MIT Press. I also wrote an article exploring the character and development of mobile games that was published in the International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication & Society (Wiley-Blackwell). Last but not least, the long-waited book, Playful Identities: The Ludification of Digital Media Cultures came out from Amsterdam University Press. My piece there deals with the culture and identity of casual online play.

Our research team’s work in 2015 again covered a large part of the games, player experiences, design research and game cultures landscapes. Our particular emphasis is on the emerging and transforming aspects of these, multiple and interconnected phenomena and research topics. In 2015 we wrapped up the research projects Hybridex – The User Experience in the Future Playful Hybrid Services and Free2Play – Best Practices for Free-to-Play Game Services. Some of the research publications, including the full final reports from these projects are still coming out, but you can find some of this work at: https://free2playproject.wordpress.com/publications/ and https://hybridex.wordpress.com/ . Our work in the emerging, and newly re-configured borderlines of physical and digital dimensions in play also included also practical design experiments in the TSR funded OASIS research that studied intermixing of work and play, as well as with the playful MurMur chairs (originating from the Hybridex project). Featured in local as well as in international media, such practical implementations of fundamental research particularly appear to attract the attention of wider audiences. The high-quality research on gamification was also getting wider notice this year, including many publications that were coming out from Koukku, Neuroeconomics of Gaming and Free2Play research projects on this theme. Many thanks to all members of our research team, from these, as well as other research projects.

Much of such research that includes direct applications and links with games industry and other end user or interest groups were funded by Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, as well as by various industry partners. Many thanks to all our collaborating partners, and Tekes in particular for their interest and belief in the significance of games and games related research. The Skene games programme ended in 2015, but everyone very much hopes that the huge funding cuts to Tekes, Academy of Finland and directly to the basic funding of Finnish universities does not stop work in themes that are important for the advancement of fundamental knowledge, cultural richness, and capacity for innovation – be those related to arts, technology, humanities, social sciences or e.g. human well-being (studies of games, play, gamification and playfulness relate and touch upon all those research areas).

Our work continues in active mode also in 2016, thanks to two new Tekes research projects (Hybrid Social Play; STREAM/eSports), the Academy of Finland funded Ludification of Culture and Society project, and other ongoing work that is based on individual research grants that members of our research teams have won, as well as other continuing research projects. There are many important themes that are logical continuation of the earlier work we have done (and I have probably forgot to mention many important achievements above), but there are also new innovations and expansions into new areas that are going on. Directing my time and energy into new research on e.g. hybrid play applications while simultaneously participating in other ongoing work will probably mean that in 2016 there will not be as many publications coming out from myself, but that is part of the natural rhythm, ebb and flow of academic life. It is also important that the new tenure-track associate professor in game culture studies position, announded in summer 2015, will be filled hopefully in early 2016. We are also joining forces among the Finnish game scholars to have more supportive structures and collaborative initiatives to start in 2016.

Again: many thanks for everyone in our team, project collaborators and international friends who have made 2015 such a successful and productive year – wishing you all the best, and hoping to make 2016 also a great year together!

Edit: Oh yes – Jaakko Stenros defending his PhD thesis should of course be mentioned here; every doctoral dissertation from our research team is a major milestone!

DiGRA 2016: joint DiGRA/FDG conference

This actually makes great sense: “For the first time, the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) and the Foundation of Digital Games (FDG) will partner in an unprecedented gathering of games researchers. We invite researchers and educators within game research, broadly construed, to submit their work.” More at: http://www.digra.org/145807/#more-145807

UTAgamelab has new website!

The website of University of Tampere Game Research Lab has been redesigned, with updated information about our research projects, research staff, the university degree education we provide, plus with information about seminars, conferences, public talks and other activities that we engage in. Check them out at: http://gameresearchlab.uta.fi.

Video Game Policy: new book

Video Game Policy (book cover).
Video Game Policy.

Most recent book to come out in the Routledge Advances in Games Studies series that I have contributed into: Video Game Policy: Production, Distribution, and Consumption (edited by Steven Conway & Jennifer deWinter) is now available for pre-order. Here is the table of contents, including our co-authored chapter on re-conceptualizing what “video game violence” is, and means, with Gareth Schott:

Introduction – Steven Conway & Jennifer deWinter

Section I: Intellectual Property, Privacy, and Copyright

1.Laws of the Game: Intellectual Property in the Video Game Industry – Mark Methenitis

2.Digital Locks, Labor, and Play in Canada’s Copyright Policy: Filtering Power through Configurations of Game Development – Owen Livermore

3.The Princess Doesn’t Leave the Castle: How Nintendo’s WiiWare Imprisons Indie Game Design – Theo Plothe

4.Policies, Terms of Service, and Social Networking Games – Stephanie Vie

Section II: Rating Systems and Cultural Politics

5.E(SRB) Is for Everyone: Game Ratings and the Practice of Content Evaluation – Judd Ethan Ruggill and Ken S. McAllister

6. Games for Grown-Ups?: An Historical Account of the Australian Classification System – Steven Conway and Laura M. Crawford

7. Rockstar versus Australia – Mark Finn

8. Play Britannia: The Development of U.K. Video Game Policy – Ren Reynolds

Section III: Violence in Video Games

9. Re-conceptualizing Game Violence: Who Is Being Protected and from What? – Gareth Schott and Frans Mäyrä

10. Playing Around with Causes of Violent Crime: Violent Video Games as a Diversion from the Policy Challenges Involved in Understanding and Reducing Violent Crime – James D. Ivory and Adrienne Holz Ivory

11. Banning Violent Video Games in Switzerland: A Public Problem Going Unnoticed – Michael Perret

12. Toxic Gamer Culture, Corporate Regulation, and Standards of Behavior among Players of Online Games – Thorsten Busch, Kelly Boudreau, and Mia Consalvo

Section IV: Politics and Regulations

13.The Right to Play in the Digital Era – Tom Apperley

14. Against the Arcade: Video Gaming Regulation and the Legacy of Pinball – Carly A. Kocurek

15. Curt Schilling’s Gold Coins: Lessons for Creative Industry Policy in Light of the 38 Studios Collapse – Randy Nichols

16.The Ban on Gaming Consoles in China: Protecting National Culture, Morals, and Industry within an International Regulatory Framework – Bjarke Liboriussen, Andrew White, and Dan Wang

17. Regulating Rape: The Case of RapeLay, Domestic Markets, International Outrage, and Cultural Imperialism – Jennifer deWinter

Afterword – Ashley S. Lipson

The publisher’s web pages with ordering information can be found at: https://www.routledge.com/products/9781138812420.

The Video Game Debate, new book available for (pre)order

Video Game Debate (book cover)
The Video Game Debate.

New book available for preorder: The Video Game Debate: Unravelling the Physical, Social, and Psychological Effects of Video Games (eds. Rachel Kowert & Thorsten Quandt; publisher: Routledge). Table of contents for this highly interesting, multidisciplinary volume is below:

1. A Brief History of Video Games – James D. Ivory

2. The Rise (and Refinement) of Moral Panic – Nicholas D. Bowman

3. Are Electronic Games Health Hazards or Health Promoters? – Cheryl K. Olson

4. The Influence of Digital Games on Aggression and Violent Crime – Mark Coulson and Christopher J. Ferguson

5. Gaming Addiction and Internet Gaming Disorder – Mark D. Griffiths

6. Social outcomes: Online game play, social currency, and social ability – Rachel Kowert

7. Debating How to Learn From Video Games – John L. Sherry

8. Video Games and Cognitive Performance – Gillian Dale and C. Shawn Green

9. Exploring Gaming Communities – Frans Mäyrä

10. No black and white in video game land! Why we need to move beyond simple explanations in the video game debate – Thorsten Quandt and Rachel Kowert

The publisher’s pages for the book are at: http://www.tandf.net/books/details/9781138831636/

There is also an Amazon.com page for pre-ordering: http://www.amazon.com/The-Video-Game-Debate-Psychological/dp/1138831638 .

Also, the author’s version of my chapter that discusses the study of “gaming communities” is available from here: http://people.uta.fi/~frans.mayra/Gaming_Communities.pdf.