Talks and Speakers 2016
Playing Together: Building a theory of tandem play
Much of what we know about how people play games together comes from studies of online multiplayer games such as MMOGs, or physical controller based games that use the Kinect or Wii controllers. Yet playing videogames together is something we all have done, for a very long time. This talk explores a research project that had individuals play single player games together in different configurations- to determine how the act of gameplay- even an ostensibly solitary one- is situated in social settings.
Mia Consalvo is a Professor at Concordia University, Canada research chair in game studies and the president of DiGRA (Digital Game Research Association). She is a leading scholar in the game studies field and the author of several publications on different aspects of gaming and game culture including the books Cheating: Gaining Advantage in Videogames, and Atari to Zelda: Japan's Videogames in Global Contexts.
Play to Remember: The Constitution of History in Game Culture
The growing field of historical game studies has spent much time examining the historical representations found in games. However, less time has been spent considering the surrounding historical activities of players of these games. This talk explores two such activities. Firstly, the efforts of modding communities in their revision of history in games and secondly, the formation of 'realism clans’ in the search for a more authentic historical re-enactment experience through games. In both cases, the aim is to acknowledge the ways that players constitute history beyond the game itself.
Adam Chapman is a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Education, Communication and Learning, University of Gothenburg. He is one of the world’s leading scholars on the representation of history in games and the author of the book Digital Games as History, to be released by Routledge in June, 2016.
Playing through the camera: Showmanship in video-mediated gaming
In recent years, streaming platforms such as Youtube and Twitch have become important parts of gaming culture. Therefore, it can be argued that understanding both production and spectatorship of gaming videos will become increasingly important to game studies as well. In this talk I will present an on-going project looking into methods that youtubers use in Let’s plays for communicating and connecting with their audiences. It is an exploration of the interactional means for humour, affect and showmanship among some well-known you tubers.
Björn Sjöblom, is a post doctor at the section for Child and Youth Studies at Stockholm University and a game researcher at the National Museum of Science and Technology in Sweden. He has published several articles on issues ranging from young people’s interaction at gaming cafés to the representation of violence against children in video games.
Playing Better: Theorycraft, The Meta, Analytics, and the Optimization of Play
A dominant game played outside the regular bounds of games is the work players do to figure out optimal strategies for play. In video games ranging from Blizzard’s PC title Starcraft to the iOS game Marvel: Avengers Academy players seek to maximize their efforts players by figuring out the rules and algorithms that govern interactions within the game. Drawing from comparisons in sports and gambling, this talk explores what the drive to play better say about video games and the people who play them.
Christopher A. Paul is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Communication Department at Seattle University and vice-president of DiGRA (Digital Games Research Association). His work focuses on using tools from rhetorical analysis to analyze aspects of digital media, particularly video games. He published Wordplay and the Discourse of Video Games: Analyzing Words, Design, and Play and has a forthcoming book project about meritocracy and toxicity in video game culture. His work can also be found in Games and Culture, Game Studies, Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, First Monday, and the DiGRA library.
that answered the call for presentations and selected by the program committee.
This paper assesses player’s perspectives and practices relating to historical games. It outlines the findings of an online survey (n = 341) where players of this genre were asked about their engagements with (specifically) historical games. 5 main themes emerged from the data in relation to player practices outside of the historical games themselves: they motivate players to discuss the content; they produce information-seeking behaviour; game-learned knowledge is transferred to real-world contexts; the relationships of historical games with other media forms; and “Game tourism”. In this way, it is important to understand historical games beyond the content alone, to properly assess the impact of these games on players’ understandings of history.
Sian Beavers is a PhD student with the Open University, whose research will ultimately focus on the informal/incidental learning of classical (ancient Greek and Roman) history that occurs through audience engagements with digital media, notably historical TV drama and digital games that represent classical content. Adopting a mixed method approach that combines quantitative survey data with a qualitative interview study, her aim is to compare the ways narratives about the classical past are constructed within different media. This is in order to assess the affordances that these media can comparatively offer in terms of historical understanding about the ancient world.
As video games are entering our consciousness, not only as playthings but as cultural objects to be taken seriously, museums are struggling with how to conserve and exhibit games as part of our digital, cultural heritage. This study explores this struggle in two museums working with games; one US and one Swedish. Results discuss the conflicts between games as objects, the exhibiting museums, and the desires and agendas of game interested—and dis-interested—staff as they tangle with establishing meaning around games as cultural objects. This study explores the ongoing process of how digital games are becoming cultural heritage.
Lina Eklund is a Swedish sociologist working on digital technology and social interaction. Lina received her doctorate in sociology in 2013 and is now researching and teaching at the department of Sociology, Stockholm University, as well as the National Museum of Science and Technology in Stockholm. Her research uses a mixed methods approach to investigate social behaviour in relation to digital technologies and games. Her areas of interest are: social life, identity, and gender in relation to digital technologies.
Moral dilemmas have been quite popular in games for some years, recent and well know examples being This War of Mine and The Walking Dead. By analyzing fanfiction based on these two games, it will be discussed if moral dilemmas as well as their reflection are mirrored in the texts and if yes, in which way authors reflect upon these moral dilemmas. The results will show if games including real moral dilemmas might make players think more carefully about the consequences of the decisions taken within the game and if these in-game experiences might even effect their lives beyond game-space.
Sonja Gabriel is lecturer and researcher at KPH Vienna/Krems and has been doing research into digital game based learning since 2008. Recent projects and publications look at the way digital games convey values or moral dilemmas and their effects on players outside the games.
Examining empirically the immersive effects of dynamic music for the first time, a study was conducted to explore imaginary and sensory immersion, suspension of disbelief, flow, spatial presence, possible actions, emotional valence/arousal and performance in a 3rd person action-adventure video game. 60 subjects answered self-report questionnaires each time after playing the game in one of three conditions accounting for  dynamic music,  non-dynamic music/low arousal potential and  non-dynamic music/high arousal potential, in this way manipulating affective arousal, structural-temporal alignment and emotional congruency of nondiegetic music separately.
Hans-Peter Gasselseder (Mag. rer. nat.) has studied psychology, communication, and musicology at the University of Salzburg, Austria. Also working as a tutor and research assistant, he has conducted several studies on music and sound fx applications in different media with a special emphasis on film music and video games. Further research topics include sound perception, forewarning-fear as well as eye movements. Currently he works as a research assistant and is preparing his PhD thesis at Aalborg University, Denmark
Visual interludes that are pausing the actual interactive gameplay, so called cutscenes, are one of the most important story telling features in games and as such an ubiquitous game design element that is taken for granted. This presentation is trying to elucidate the emergence of some early design pieces that were role models for what is now common place. That shows how the technological constraints (computers without graphic cards, limited hard disc space, specific user interfaces, etc.) together with the needs for commercialisation and the creative industries discourse, in which designers are working, created various forms of ludo-cinematic narratives, a very own visual style.
Simon Huber studied History and Educational Sciences at the University of Vienna. He started his PhD under supervision of Professor Robert Pfaller at the Design-University Linz (Universität für Gestaltung, UfG) about „Didactic’s double Game. A media archaeological probing of school culture.“ (Das doppelte Spiel der Didaktik. Medienarchäologische Sondierung der Schulkultur). He lives in Vienna and runs a coffee shop — the Kaffemik.
Maria Kalionpäa, Hans Peter Gasselseder
Classical Music Performance as a Game: Joys and Perils
Musicians have become used to regarding musical compositions as fixed entities. Applying interactive music systems would help to widen the composers’ expressive perspective, as well as to enhance the musicians´ performing experience. We will design an interactive music engine that combines the aspects of musical composition and game, and with the help of it, explore the possibilities of importing game design to the classical music composition and performance. The system not only gains relevance as means of realising user-generated procedural aesthetics but also as a pedagogical tool. Music composition and game design often overlap, bringing forward new modes of expression that may extend to other domains worth further investigation.
Maria Kallionpää earned her PhD in composition in 2015 (University of Oxford) and has graduated from the Royal Academy of Music (2009) and Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Wien (2010). She won the first prize of the OUPHIL composition competition in 2013. Kallionpää works as a postdoctoral fellow at the university of Aalborg. Her project focuses on designing a music engine that uses gamification as a composition technique. As a winner of the “Fabbrica” Program of Opera di Roma, Kallionpää is currently composing them an opera. She is also composing the first full-length puppet opera produced in the Nordic Countries, to be premiered in 2018. She is a laureate of Académie de France à Rome (2016).
Fares Kayali, Vera Schwarz, Gerit Götzenbrucker, Peter Purgathofer
Together with secondary school students the project Sparkling Games investigates howconcepts fromthe field of game-based learning can be used to developlearning methods and materials covering thetopic informatics and society.The project starts with a detailed analysis of existing learning andmainstreamcommercial games. In the presented study students were asked to look forexamples ofthe topic informatics and society or other interesting learningcontent in commercial games. Theydocumented the games and learning contentsthey came upon in an online database developedspecifically for the researchproject. This paper presents a thematic analysis of these database entries.
Fares Kayaliis a game designer, postdoctoral researcher and lecturerat the Vienna University ofTechnology and the University of Applied ArtsVienna. He currently is principal investigator of twoprojects on game-basedlearning and art-based research.
Vera Schwarz is a political scientist, research associate at the Universityof Vienna, Department ofCommunication, lecturer and Ph.D. student. Herresearch topics include Migration & Integration Studies, Race & Class, Austrian politics & contemporary history, Feminist theory &practice andIntersectionality. She also works as a workshop and seminarfacilitator.
Gerit Götzenbrucker Associate Professor at the Departmentof Communication, Faculty of SocialSciences, University of Vienna,Austria. Research Fields: Communication and Media Innovation,Technology Assessment, Science and Technology Studies, Social Network Analysis, intercultural Communication.
- Purgathofer is associate professor at the Institute for Design and Assessmentof Technology/TUWien. His work centres around UX/HCI-design, game design andthe role of design in softwareengineering, as well as the interplaybetween technology and society. He is coordinator of the mediainformatics master program.
Does a game contribute to raising awareness and moving social issues forward? Is it likely to impact on player’s mindset and attitudes?
This intervention covers how games can activate reflections encouraging players to make sense of their surroundings as well as of their inner self. It explores the meaningful negative experiences triggered by games addressing significant subjects of matters, drawing the attention on (1) the designer who crafts such games and (2) the subject who plays them. Putting emphasis on the diversity of interpretations, games are investigated as activators of sense-making between intersubjectivity and subjectivity; in parallel players are analysed as ethical agents.
Ilaria Mariani. PhD in Design at Politecnico di Milano, Ilaria designs, investigates and lectures in games for social change as systems for communication and social innovation. Her research – theoretical and practical – mainly addresses the meaningful negative experiences certain games create to activate reflection and encourage an alteration of entrenched attitudes and sometimes even behaviours. She researches on games and play(er) experiences both as forms of enquiry/exploration, and as a process of self- and meta-interrogation, using interdisciplinary practices and tools (quantitative + qualitative).
Over the past thirty years digital games have become mass media and are marked by social, cultural and political discourses. Video games respectively communicate, perpetuate and build collective identities. In my presentation I will aim at locating and deconstructing “political myths” following Roland Barthes’ concept of “mythologies”. To illustrate these thoughts I will focus on three exemplary horror games of the last years: “The Last of Us”, “Alien:Isolation” and “Until Dawn” and the respective myths of “societal ruin”, “predatory capitalism” and “unethical medical research”.
Eugen Pfister is researcher at the Institute for Cultural Science (IKT) at the Austrian Academy of Science. He studied history and political sciences at the University of Vienna and Paris IV. He was part of the graduate school “The history of political communication” and received his PhD at the University of Frankfurt am Main and at the Universita degli studi die Trento. His fields of interest are: the history of political communication, media history, game studies and collective identities. He runs the blog "Spiel-Kultur-Wissenschaft. Mythen im Digitalen Spiel" (spielkult.hypotheses.org ).
Creators of video game inspired NSFW fan cultures have recently discovered the crowdfunding service Patreon and started looking for financial support and ways to become more “professional”. Despite calls and actions from developers (e.g. Ken Levine or Blizzard), porn fan cultures are slowly becoming full-time jobs for their creators. These recent developments however contradict traditional values of fandom, especially the ethos of (digital) gift economies as well as other boundaries of fan cultures in general, such as the producer-fan relationship and copyright issues of derivative and transformative works. The paper presents a discourse analysis of 40 Patreon projects.
Jan Švelch is a Ph.D. candidate at the Institute of Communication Studies and Journalism at Charles University in Prague. He received his B.A. and M.A. in Journalism and Media Studies, respectively. His research focuses on video game paratextuality, glitches, fan communities and fan cultures. Besides research, he works as a freelance journalist covering video games for various Czech magazines.
Rikke Toft Nørgård, Claus Toft-Nielsen
In this talk we present a conceptual framework, processual models and concrete cases for thinking beyond prescriptive conceptions of gameplay. Gamethinkers and gametinkers are brought forward as the potentials and results of critical and open-minded engagements with gameplay beyond consumption in educational contexts. We combine concrete cases within Coding Pirates with conceptual frameworks, and processual models and concrete cases to show how we can work creatively, critically and intentionally together with children to transgress our understanding of what games, gameplay and gameplayers might be, look and feel like leading towards new gaming practice and game cultures might welcome and encompass diverse and inclusive gameplay futures.
Rikke Toft Nørgårdis associate professor, PhD, at the Center for Teaching Development and Digital Media, Aarhus University. Her PhD, Gameplay Corporeality focused on embodied and performed interactions and experiences through gameplay. Her research on gameplay focuses on the intersections of interaction and experience, design thinking and educational philosophy. Rikke is member of the board of directors of Coding Pirates Denmark and head of department of Coding Pirates CUDiM and Coding Pirates GameDev.
Claus Toft-Nielsen is an assistant professor, PhD at the Centre for Teaching Development and Digital Media, Aarhus University and head of department of Coding Pirates GameDev. He is an avid gamer and has been teaching and studying digital games for more then 10 years. His PhD thesis (2013) was on online and offline gaming practices of MMO-players in the context of their wider engagement in genres and everyday lives.