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10:10-11:30 Session 15A: General: panel

Panel - Current Situations in the Japanese Game Research and Game Development Pedagogical Practices

Current Situations in the Japanese Game Research and Game Development Pedagogical Practices

ABSTRACT. Currently we have over 250 members from both academic and industry at DiGRA Japan Chapter, and in recent years, various academic institutions begun offering courses on digital game development, but only few have been heard in regards to what kind of research projects are taking place or how Japanese teachers are educating students to learn about game development. This is usually due to the fact that a majority of research has been published in Japanese and that a few teachers in game developers had a chance to visit overseas and share their pedagogical practices as such was not required in Japanese institutions in order to advance their career either in tenure track or even going forward. This panel allow audience to grasp the overview on current situations on Japanese game research as well as pedagogical practices of game development in Japan.

10:10-11:30 Session 15B: Context: panel

Disruption, Struggle, Re-construction and Re-negotiation: The messy reality of co-creative game design

Location: C1 (82 posti)
Disruption, Struggle, Re-construction and Re-negotiation: The messy reality of co-creative game design
SPEAKER: Olli Sotamaa


10:10-11:30 Session 15C: Users
Location: C3 (43 posti)
Videogames, analytics and the ‘becoming-gramme’ of play

ABSTRACT. Technologies that capture and generate data occupy an important role in shaping the practices of everyday life. As a range of scholars writing on ‘mundane data’ (Pink et al., 2018; Smith, 2018) suggest, the capture and transmission of data works to track, govern, and produce space and time in our everyday lives. Globally, videogame play is a significant part of our everyday mediated lives – and is, increasingly, forming a strong rapport with technologies and techniques that inscribe and relay (gaming) performances, practices, and processes through data. This paper presents some meditations on videogame data analytics – which harvest and aggregate gameplay, presenting the spatiotemporal flux of ingame events in the form of numeric data or visualisations; materialising the embodiments, affects and technical processes involved in play. As recent work suggests, data analytics platforms are increasingly emerging in both proprietary (Ash, 2015) and third-party (Egliston, 2016, 2017) capacities – largely within the context of multiplayer videogames. In this paper I attempt to unpack what data analytics might mean within the contexts of ‘everyday’ play. I do so from a ‘post-phenomenological’ perspective – drawing selectively on the work of prolific media and technology theorist Bernard Stiegler. I mobilise Stiegler’s concept of ‘grammatisation’ to frame my discussion of analytics (2010). Grammatisation – an aspect of Stiegler’s wider account of human-technical complicity and development– refers to the breakdown of wider performances or phenomena into some other discrete form (or gramme), as to make them retrievable and reproducible. Just as alphabetisation is a grammatisation of the flows and embodiments of speech, analytics platforms break the spatiotemporal flows of gameplay into numbers and graphics. Crucially, grammatisation for Stiegler, is tied closely to habit – understood here as ways of doing and being as transformed by environmental phenomena (see Grosz, 2013). Just as the development of writing (as grammatisaiton of speech) feeds back into our ways of speaking, I argue that grammatising gameplay through analytics folds into our own gaming practices, ordering the ways in which the game is understood and negotiated. Based on an autoethnographic element of a wider research project (and using a ‘walkthrough’ method, after Light et al., 2016), this paper discusses two main case studies of popular analytics platforms in the game Dota 2: Dotabuff and OpenDota. In examining these platforms, I explore two main threads. First, I look at how gaming analytics work to generate self-knowledge through exteriorising our own past performance. I suggest that this grammatisation allows players to reflect on well-played performance, and revise error – intervening in the condition of videogame technicity and allowing for the establishment of productive habits. Second, I explore how analytics grammatises the play of others. Dota 2 has a playerbase of millions, and analytics platforms provide a view – through the data – of how a significant portion of players approach the game. Emphasis is given to how expert play is made visible via analytics platforms. In this way, I argue that analytics operates as an aspirational framework. Keeping with Stiegler’s explicitly activist and critical philosophical project, I also discuss some of the detrimental effects of pervasive stat tracking and sharing on the experience of play. Taken together, analytics work as what Stiegler terms ‘mnemotechnics’ – technologies which (via grammatising play) orient how humans experience things (like videogames) as a confluence of perceptions, anticipations and recollections. In short, I argue that gaming’s ‘data-fication’ has become an integral part of how we experience videogames – which can productively be theorized, after Stiegler, as a becoming-gramme of play.

A Three Person Poncho and a Set of Maracas: Designing Ola De La Vida, A Co-Located Social Play Computer Game
SPEAKER: Mona Bozdog

ABSTRACT. Events that bring people together to play video games as a social experience are growing in popularity across the western world. Amongst these events are ‘play parties,’ temporary social play environments which create unique shared play experiences for attendees unlike anything they could experience elsewhere. This paper explores co-located play experience design and proposes that social play games can lead to the formation of temporary play communities. These communities may last for a single gameplay session, for a whole event, or beyond the event. The paper analyses games designed or enhanced by social play contexts and evaluates a social play game, Ola de la Vida. The research findings suggest that social play games can foster community through the design of game play within the game itself, through curation which enhances their social potential, and through design for ‘semi-spectatorship’, which blurs the boundaries between player and spectator thus widening the game’s magic circle.

Is My Avatar MY Avatar? Character Autonomy and Automated Avatar Actions in Digital Games

ABSTRACT. This paper will explore the borders between the avatar and character dimensions of the player figure, as outlined by Vella (2015), particularly in cases where this line gets blurry. Through investigation of five different examples, I suggest we use the measures of avatar control and character complexity to study the relationship between avatar and character in a given instance. Avatar control refers to the amount of agency the player has in a given instance in a game compared to the default mode of agency, whereas character complexity builds on transmedia and literary theory approaches to characters, to explore what constitutes complexity of the character in question. The analysis allows us to assess whether the instance can be considered representing either character autonomy or automated avatar actions, and in turn may help us understand the relationship between the player, the avatar, and the character.

The Other Otherness of the Avatar: Technological Alterity in Player-Avatar-Relations.

ABSTRACT. In this paper I will try to disentangle the narrative otherness of the “playable character” from the technological alterity of the avatar as instrument.

10:10-11:30 Session 15E: Meaning-making
Location: D3 (73 posti)
Incentivizing Correct Waste Sorting by Game Design

ABSTRACT. This extended abstract gives gives an insight into the design process of a serious game tackling the environmental problem of motivating and teaching correct waste sorting. It sums up the establishment of requirements, derived design choices, design examples and a short summary of the current research efforts.

Games Biting Back: ANATOMY and Ecofeminism

ABSTRACT. Videogames are often analyzed for their capacity to present narrative through the structure of the environments they create, a concept that finds its most famous articulation in Henry Jenkins 2004 piece “Game Design as Narrative Architecture.” This conceptualization positions the digital environment as a passive repository of information, made to be used by an active subject: the player. This reflects and reinforces a paradigm that seeks to dominate nature and those associated with it, namely women and colonized subjects.

ANATOMY, a 2016 game by Kitty Horrorshow, rejects this traditional positioning of game environments as existing for a player. It subverts the player’s agency in the game, gradually stripping away their control, presenting instead a house, and a game, that asserts an agency of its own. It also genders this subversion, aligning the house of the game, and the game itself, with a femininity that refuses to be passive.

‘Missing is the Message’: Addressing India’s Girl-Trafficking Problem through a Videogame

ABSTRACT. ‘Missing is the Message’: Addressing India’s Girl-Trafficking Problem through a Videogame

Human trafficking, although as much a rampant menace in India as it is worldwide, remains a taboo concept in Indian society even today. One of the largest red-light areas in Asia, Sonagacchi in the city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), has over seventeen thousand sex-workers in total and around forty girls entering the flesh-trade every month (Bhaduri 2017). The scenario is the same for other major cities in India such as Delhi and Mumbai. Many of the girls are inveigled into the trade by unscrupulous people promising marriage or a better career and very few are able to leave. Locally, non-governmental organisations such as ‘Durbar’ work towards educating the sex-workers and their clients as well as raising awareness, in general. The question arises as to whether and how such awareness can be augmented through other popular media as well.

Missing (Chakraborty and Kejriwal 2015), an Android and iOS videogame designed by Leena Kejriwal and Satyajit Chakraborty, is a game that addresses the question of girl-trafficking directly and through a complex web of choices that the player has to make in the avatar of Champa who has been kidnapped and sold into prostitution. The game has proved controversial and besides the usual complaints about game bugs, many of the reviewers on the Android Playstore question the fact that such a topic can be addressed through a game, accuse the developers of being sexist or even call it a ‘damn prostitute game [sic]’. In some other complex reactions, there are players asking for the game to be removed from the PlayStore because they feel very saddened by what it portrays. The majority of the reviews, however, are very positive and focus on the human tragedy that the game addresses and many claim to have learned more about the human trafficking scenario in Eastern India while others believe that the game raises important questions on empathy and the need to look at the problem from beyond the stigma that prostitution carries in the local social discourses.

Its recent acclaim in international platforms such as Games for Change, Gamasutra and India’s NASSCOM Game Development Conference has brought the game designers, Leena Kejriwal and Satyajit Chakrabarty, in the limelight. The game was designed as an extension of Kejriwal’s Missing Girls Project. Kejriwal’s motto, ‘art is activism’, is characteristically represented in her numerous stencils of a girl’s silhouette on walls in various parts of Kolkata or in the large black silhouettes that she makes out of iron sheets. Each silhouette carries a number denoting how many trafficked girls have been traced by the project. Social workers, volunteers, schoolchildren and many others contribute to her project. The game extends this powerful and poignant representation of the problem globally.

In a sense, then, the game connects to the so-called ‘docu-game’ genre and has precedents and antecedents in titles such as Papers, Please! (Pope 2013), Attentat 1942 (Charles University, and the Czech Academy of Sciences) or Thunderbird Strike (LaPensée 2017); however, there is a marked difference. Besides the criticism of the game outlined earlier, there are allegations against the presentation of such a sensitive issue through a videogame, which still retains largely negative connotations in India. Further, earlier attempts using popular media to represent the problem have been under heavy scrutiny. The Academy-award winning Born into Brothels (Briski and Kaufman 2004) was roundly criticised for ‘orientalizing Indian women as helpless, exotic, and “other” in relation to normative, empowered, white Western women’ (Shah 2005) and suggesting escape as the only viable solution rather than addressing questions of empowerment as the local organisations do. Other texts such as Radhika’s Story (Hendry 2010) are closer to the plot of escape in Missing but have not attracted the ire of critics. In looking at the complex politics that plays out in the reception of a game on girl-trafficking (in a society that is prone to grossly misunderstanding the role of videogames), a range of issues emerge around the representation of such controversial social problems in third-world postcolonial nations such as India. On the one hand, the docu-game genre that has hitherto flourished as a key vehicle of the ‘serious games’ and ‘Game for Change’ ideologies is likely to face resistance because it deals with a taboo social problem and the ‘gameness’ might be seen to make light of the problem; on the other, there might be possible criticisms, drawing on the ideas of Gayatri Chakravarty Spivak (1981) and Chandra Talpade Mohanty (Mohanty 1984), on how the problem of girl-trafficking and its possible solutions are also couched in a colonial discourse that needs to shed its orientalism and sense of superiority in tackling social issues. Kejriwal and Chakrabarty are now working on Missing - Part 2, based on field-research that reveals very different problems for the sex-workers today and indeed an altered mechanics of trafficking in the region. Unlike its predecessors in other media, the current game too is not merely about escape (although that is the final objective); it is also as much about the choices the player makes in the persona of the protagonist.

Keeping these questions in mind, the paper will explore documentary games as an effective means to educate societies that may be resistant to engage with social problems such as girl trafficking. It will also aim to deconstruct the problems that such a ‘game as the message’ might involve in terms of bias in constructing perspectives and suggesting one-size-fits-all solutions as earlier popular media has often ended up doing.


Bhaduri, T. (2017) ‘Woeful Tales of Slavery and Trafficking from West Bengal’s Alleys’. 02. 07.2017. The Quint.com. Web.

Briski, Z. and R. Kaufmann (2004) Born into Brothels. DVD.

Chakrabarty, S. and L. Kejriwal (2015) Missing. Android, iOS.

Charles University, and the Czech Academy of Sciences (2017) Attentat 1942. Charles University, and the Czech Academy of Sciences. Windows, iOS.

Hendry, S. (2010) Radhika’s Story Cape Town: New Holland Publishers. Print. Mohanty, C. (1981) ‘Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses’. Boundary 2. Vol. 12 issue 3. Print.

LaPensée, E. (2017) Thunderbird Strike. Elizabeth LaPensée. Web.

Pope, L. (2013) Papers, Please! 3903 LLC. Windows, iOS, PS Vita.

Shah, S. (2005) ‘Born into Saving Brothel Children’. SAMAR Magazine, issue 19. Web.

Spivak, G.C. (1981) ‘French Feminism in an International Frame’. Yale French Studies. No. 62. Print.

Playing for Real

ABSTRACT. Furthering the proposition that the message of games is their effect on the player, this paper questions the message of games that have an intended purpose and use in non-game environments. Pymetrics is an American recruitment company which uses computational neuroscience, artificial intelligence and game design to create games that can evaluate the character traits of job searchers and then direct them to their best career fit. Pymetrics also offers employers a way to recruit talent by setting up campaigns for specific sets of traits that players have to possess. Thus, the Pymetrics games are meant to produce effects and consequences in real-life. Drawing on Baudrillard's extensive commentary on symbolic structures as foundational to society's way of life and belief system, this paper is a theoretical reflection on the proposition that virtual experiences can serve as assessment tools for the skills and on-the-job performance of actual persons. In the context of Baudrillard's notions of the code and integral reality, the concept of gamification or applying games to non-game purposes functions as a symbolic strategy for handling "the radical illusoriness of the world" (2005: 32). The suggestion that computer games can assess personality traits or proclivity toward a specific career, directly implies the contingency between virtual and embodied experience. Pymetrics assumes the translatability of in-game action into behaviour patterns, and the game scores into evidence for inherent potential and future performance of users. Therefore, to function as promised, their game applications merge fact and artefact, blur time distinctions, and equate experience with its virtual representations. In other words, they exhibit the characteristic effects of what Baudrillard calls the "total substitution" of reality with virtuality, or what Chris Turner paraphrases as a "programme of total production which itself supplants the world, (...) turning it wholly into known" (Turner in Baudrillard, 2005, 9). Based on this, I claim, that the existence of gamification as a particular relationship to knowledge, self and time justifies the use of Baudrillard's integral reality as a descriptive term for the contemporary condition. Conversely, it is also true that the application of gamification as a design principle is bound to produce integral reality artefacts. To defend these claims, I first examine the promotional rhetoric that dresses up Pymetrics' games as scientific instruments of high utility. While it is hard to argue whether the trait assessment is right or wrong, Pymetrics' rhetoric invites us to adopt a worldview, a value system and an attitude that align with Baudrillard's description of integral reality. In addition, I discuss my personal impression of the games and my reaction to the assesment I receive as a result of playing. Together, the Pymetrics games and trait report create an experience, produce affective responses and modes of self-relation that comprise the impact and the message of the game. Yet, this message and effect are now meant to exceed the boundaries of the playground and reach out into real life. The Pymetrics games shape the player as a subject, and assign him/her a 'proper' role in non-game social practices and exchanges.

10:10-11:30 Session 15F: Meta-Play
Location: D4 (76 posti)
Ethics at Play in Undertale: Rhetoric, Identity and Deconstruction

ABSTRACT. This paper focuses on the effect of ethical – and unethical – actions of the player on their perception of the self towards game characters within Toby Fox’s (2015) independent Role Playing Game (RPG) Undertale, a game often perceived as a pacifist text. With a focus on the notions of guilt and responsibility in mind, a survey with 560 participants from the Undertale fandom was conducted, and thousands of YouTube comments were scraped to better understand how the audience who watched or played the different routes of the game, refer to its characters. Through the joint analysis of the game’s semiotics, survey data, and data scraping, this paper argues that, beyond the rhetoric nature of its story, Undertale is operating a deconstruction of the RPG genre and is harnessing the emotional power of gameplay to evoke thoughts about responsibility and raise the player’s awareness about violence and its consequences.

Design Concepts for Empowerment through Urban Play

ABSTRACT. Playfulness intertwined with city-related themes, such as participatory planning and civic media are becoming more popular. In the last ten years, game designers have taken up the theme of play in relation to the urban environment. In this paper, we present a conceptual mapping of “urban play,” through the analysis of eight examples of urban games. Better conceptual tools are necessary to discuss and reflect on how games draw on, or deal with, urban issues. While urban games are diverse in medium, intent, and experience, across the spectrum analyzed in this paper, they hold the potential for various player experiences emerging through play that may be useful to designers. These are: a sense of agency and impact; feelings of relatedness and empathy; an awareness and understanding of complexity, perspective-taking and scenario-building, and either planning or taking action. The conceptual mapping offers scholars and practitioners a more nuanced vocabulary for designing games and playful interventions that might be used to tackle societal issues that either require or could benefit from genuine public involvement as engaged citizens.

Mechanisms of Disclosure: A Socio-technical Perspective of Sociality in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Video Games
SPEAKER: Iulia Coanda

ABSTRACT. Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) are virtual worlds brimming with instances of online social interaction. Far from being a-social places, filled exclusively with solitary quests and tasks; they are purposefully designed to allow and encourage group play. For instance, The Elder Scrolls Online has hosted more than 200.000 people in game, at the same time (GameSpot, 2016). As such, many researchers interested in the socio-cultural dynamics of online communication have explored the social bonding, bridging and formation of different MMORPG communities (Yee, 2006; Zhang and Kaufman, 2015). René Glas (2012), Nardi (2010) and Taylor (2006) have, additionally, acknowledged that the interactions of in-game communities can spill outside the boundaries of MMORPGs, on other online social sites (e.g., forums, guild websites) and offline life (Taylor, 2006). Such studies have been valuable for understanding the meanings embedded in the MMORPG’s online sociality and the different characteristics of group play. Simultaneously, however, the emphasis on human sociality within MMORPG communities, has formed two blinds spots in the research literature: 1) the exclusion of a more socio-technical perspective on MMORPG communication and 2) there is a lingering bias towards in-game sociality that obscures the increasing and evolving social interaction of players outside of the game space, on other social media sites.

This research has tried to address both research gaps by focusing on the use of technology inside and outside MMORPGs and consider these as mediating actants of guild online/offline sociality. The analysis is based on the ‘The Elder Scrolls Online’, carried out through participant observation, for more than one year, in ‘a women’s only’ guild. The reason for choosing a women’s guild was deliberate, as this research was initially carried out with the aim of exploring ‘gender’ and ‘sexuality’ in MMORPG guilds. However, while the communication and identity negotiations in the guild are highly gendered, the focus of this paper is to theorize on how they are technologically mediated. While Van Dijck (2013) mainly theorizes the legal and commercial implications of different Facebook privacy breaches and broadly explores the normalization of online sharing; the focus of this research is to qualitatively and empirically conceptualize, in the context of video gaming, how users’ sociality is ever more prone to disclosure and control. Overall, this paper argues that the translation of a ‘The Elder Scrolls Online’ MMORPG guild on other social media platforms (i.e. Facebook), coupled with the frequent interaction on TeamSpeak (i.e. voice communication software), opens the group sociality to various contingent and/or inherent mechanisms of disclosure that Facebook and TeamSpeak introduce.

Findings show, on the one hand, that typical in-game communication technologies (chat, private e-mail, avatar gestures) provide players with overly functional, and anonymous interactions. In such cases, players do not generally form strong bonds with each other. Contrastingly, the displacement of guild communication on Facebook and TeamSpeak facilitates two situated disclosure mechanisms, ‘sharing’ and, respectively, ‘leaking’. Acting as double edged swords: they visibly strengthen social bonds, but they also leave social ties more vulnerable to attack, erosion and a general context collapse (Marwick and Boyd, 2011) from the inside out. The ‘leaking’ mechanism is enabled when information about guild members is overheard or certain knowledge about players comes to light, while socializing on TeamSpeak. In contrast to ‘leaking’, ‘sharing’ is one of the most visible and widespread socio-technical mechanism that Facebook and other social media ‘platforms’ advocate (Van Dijck, 2013). The ‘sharing’ button stands at the pinnacle of disclosure based technologies, alongside its adjacent features of ‘liking’/ ‘reacting’ and ‘posting’ (e.g., thoughts, photos, videos, feelings). Nevertheless, the research has not adhered to a blind techno-determinist principle, but also illustrated how players negotiate the influence digital communication technology has on their social interaction with other guild members. As ‘digital natives’, most gamers are intimately intertwined with different technological software (Dingli and Seychell, 2015). In other words, MMORPGs are not only relevant due to their salient belonging to a 91-billion-dollar industry (Takahasi, 2016), but also because they are the poster children of our digitalized everyday life.

In this article we show how digital devices like Teamspeak, Facebook and the embeddedness of MMORPGs in the broader media ecology affect the social cohesion between guild members and reconfigure boundaries between the public and the private. The analysis demonstrated that sociality in a MMORPG like TESO cannot easily be understood as unmediated, “bottom-up” forms of social-cultural activities. In line with ANT-approaches, games exemplify “sociomaterial objects” (Latour, 2005; e.g., Lupton, 2015: 23) while in-game sociality in TESO, our case study suggests, is distinctly shaped at the intersection of different technical Facebook and TeamSpeak features and the socio-cultural context in which it plays out.


Boellstorff, T. (2008) Coming of Age in Second Life. UK: Princeton University Press. Dingli, A. and Seychell, D. (2015) The New Digital Natives: Cutting the Chord. Berlin: Springer. Ducheneaut, N., Yee, N., Nickell, E., & Moore, R. J. (2006). “Alone Together?” Exploring the Social Dynamics of Massively Multiplayer Online Games. In: Proceedings of the ACM Conference On Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2006). New York: ACM, 407-416. Gamespot (2016) ‘How Elder Scrolls Online Players Break Down Between PC, PS4, and Xbox One’. [Online]. Available at: http://www.gamespot.com/articles/how-elder-scrolls-online-players-break-down-betwee/1100-6444479/ (Accessed: 22 January 2017). Glas, R. (2012). Battlefields of Negotiation: Control, Agency and Ownership in World of Warcraft. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. Latour; B. (2005) Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lupton, D. (2015) Digital Sociology. New York: Routledge Publishers. Marwick, E. and Boyd, D (2011) I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience, New Media & Society, 13:114-133 Nardi, B. (2010) My Life as a Night Elf Priest: An Anthropological Account of World of Warcraft. MI: University of Michigan Press. Takahasi, D. (2016) Worldwide game industry hits $91 billion in revenues in 2016, with mobile the clear leader, VentureBeat, December 21. [Online]. Available at: https://venturebeat.com/2016/12/21/worldwide-game-industry-hits-91-billion-in-revenues-in-2016-with-mobile-the-clear-leader/ (Accessed: 19 March 2017). Taylor, T. L. (2006) Play between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Van Dijck J. (2013) The Culture of Connectivity. A Critical History of Social Media. New York: Oxford University Press. Yee, N. (2006) The Daedalus Project. [Online]. Available at: http://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/ (Accessed: 20 May 2014). Zhang, F. and Kaufman, D. (2015) The impacts of social interactions in MMORPGs on older adults’ social capital. Computers in Human Behavior, 51, pp. 495-503.

Conversation, Discourse and Play: Interaction and Moderation in Twitch.tv Live Streaming

ABSTRACT. Twitch.tv is the dominant market leader in the live-streaming (live online broadcast) of video game content, with over one hundred million regular viewers, two million regular broadcasts, several thousand broadcasters making their full-time incomes from the practice, and a market value of approximately one billion US dollars. Broadcasters make their money through a variety of means. Viewers can choose to donate money through PayPal, or more recently, by using a digital currency on Twitch known as “bits”. Viewers can “subscribe”, which entails a monthly small amount being deducted from their bank balance and transferred to the streamer. Viewers can also use sponsored links to websites such as Amazon; take part in competitions the streamer might be running; whilst streamers can also secure income through deals with games companies who might want them to play their latest release live on-air. A crucial part of the phenomenon is what is known as “Twitch Chat”, a live chat window which allows viewers to speak to the streamer (who then often responds back). In most cases viewers who choose to financially support the stream are rewarded with special icons in Twitch Chat, which function as markers of social status and importance in the community of a particular streamer. As a major new form of game consumption, and one predicated on rapid and consistent communication between media producers and consumers (viewers), live-streaming and the actions of live-streamers are increasingly important to contemporary game studies.

In this paper we explore three central elements of the communication that takes place throughout video game streaming, and the importance of studying the interactions between streamers and viewers on this platform. Methodologically, this paper draws on interviews with over one hundred professional and aspiring-professional video game broadcasters, ranging from ten minutes to an hour, alongside ethnographic observations from almost a dozen major international gaming events in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Poland, in the last two years.

Firstly, we consider the emotional affective labour that streamers carry out. This involves forms of digitally mediated outward countenance: being friendly to viewers, soliciting donations, building parasocial intimacy with spectators, or engaging through humour. We will explore each of these activities in turn, studying how streamers communicate with their viewers in these different forms, how they each contribute to the practice as a whole. Although such activities are presented in a manner supposed to be free, casual, and without preparation, these actions both require significant preparation before a stream and extensive, and often draining, labour throughout the time of the stream itself. We examine this kind of labour and its effect on streamers, on the broadcast streams, and what this kind of work means for our understanding of streaming practice and the future of Twitch. As part of this section, we also offer a first examination of the extent to which these individuals broadcast as themselves, or as a “character”. Many professional and near-professional streamers interviewed explained that they would not stream “as themselves” but rather as characters, ranging from individuals very similar to themselves to entirely fictional constructs, and gave a number of reasons and justifications for this perhaps seemingly unusual practice. Such a disjunction between the “real” and “broadcast” self, we argue, is an essential element of self-branding in an (increasingly) over-crowded marketplace, and represents a fascinating new elements of digital media practice.

Secondly, we consider the work that “moderators” - those who assist live-streamers in keeping viewers in their channel behaving according to a streamer’s particular set of rules - carry out, and how moderators mediate between streamers and viewers. Moderators are tasked with removing questionable content that other viewers say, and develop a strong bond of association with live streamers. In the former case, this might involve comments about sexual identity, gender, race, religion, politics, and other potentially controversial topics; it might also mean insults directed at other viewers, the streamer or other streamers, and could also include memes or references to particular outside media items or concepts not desired in that particular channel. In the latter case, numerous streamers understand their moderators as being “representatives” of their channel even when not in their channel, despite their labour and “representation” being entirely unpaid, leading us to consider new forms of unpaid work taking place. Moderators are a crucial part of the success of any major channel and yet get no financial remuneration for their efforts; indeed, live streamers actually “reward” moderators with extra duties, which they appear keen to take on. In this way moderators have become exemplary neoliberal workers, willing to support the actions of their “employers” and receiving only social status and positive feedback in exchange. This section of the talk will therefore look to explain some of these interpersonal dynamics on Twitch, and how communication in live streaming between moderators and streamers becomes a mutually-rewarding, although only one-way profitable, dynamic.

Thirdly, we consider the impacts upon the social lives of streamers from the kind of regular, rapid, online communication and interaction with viewers that typifies Twitch and live streaming. Although respondents are overwhelmingly positive about the effects of live streaming on their lives, and the career opportunities - to play videogames for a living - they have thus been afforded, they are also almost united by the negative impacts on their personal lives caused by their career choice. The working hours means losing contact with family members, losing relationships, damage to one’s physical health, high levels of stress, and so forth. At the same time, we also consider how the practice helps alleviate social anxiety for many of its users, who find the communication with their viewers to be an effective mode of reducing stress, building lasting friendships and professional connections, and empowering them to meet people in their “real” lives as well. As such, live streaming and its effects on the social lives of streamers are not monolithic and singular, but complex and varied; it is these we will look to explore, and how Twitch interactions shape the lives of streamers and viewers alike.

11:30-12:00Coffee Break
12:00-13:20 Session 16A: Context: panel

Panel - Non-English-Language Game Histories: Methodological Considerations

Non-English-Language Game Histories: Methodological Considerations

ABSTRACT. Reconstructing the early history of computer gaming is always a complex affair, but since English is the dominant language for the publication of game studies research, piecing together game histories in regions and locales outside of the English-speaking world demands unique methodological considerations. This panel examines the obstacles and affordances to reconstructing game history in areas with languages other than English, offering a postcolonial critique of the “peripheral” or “semi-peripheral” status of these regions vis-à-vis the supposed global centers of game production, consumption and analysis. The panelists explore case studies from Argentina, Brazil, Finland, Poland and India, drawing on local game history research originally published in languages other than English.

12:00-13:20 Session 16B: Meaning-making
Location: C1 (82 posti)
Interpretive Challenges in Games

ABSTRACT. This paper argues that these is a category of challenges often overlooked. It is here called "interpretive challenges" and it requires players to sort out contextual and ambiguous information.

Quilting the meaning: gameplay as catalyst of signification through cognitive & interpretative processes

ABSTRACT. In this paper I propose a unifying perspective on meaning-making based on the assumption that signification in digital games is mainly produced through the cognitive & interpretative processes involved into gameplay. More exactly, the gameplay will be intended as series of sensorimotor acts and cognitive tasks that act as a catalyst and hub between semantics, narration, aesthetic, interactions & mechanics. This will be done with an interdisciplinary case analysis of Brothers: a tales of two sons and Papers, Please. My goals are two. The first one is to offer a deeper perspective on how complex contents, like brotherhood as a value and migration as a topic, dramatically depend on the cognitions triggered by playing that act as signifiers for interpretations on all the different layers of meaning. The second one is to contribute in laying the foundation of a unified theory of meaning.

Cause, Effect, and Player-Centric Time

ABSTRACT. Cause, Effect, and Player-Centric Time Federico Alvarez Igarzábal University of Cologne / TH Köln – University of Applied Sciences Schanzenstraße 28 51063, Cologne, Germany fa@colognegamelab.com

Keywords Causation, force dynamics, time, triggers, storytelling

INTRODUCTION A central aspect of playing video games is determining the causal connections between entities. To achieve their objectives, players need to set chains of events in motion that will yield the desired outcomes. But how do players detect these causal relations? Studies conducted by psychologist Albert Michotte in the 1940s showed that “we see causality just as directly as we see color” (Kahneman 2011: 76). Causal relations appear before us effortlessly, to the point that we are prone to perceive them where there are none—which is why statisticians insistently repeat that correlation does not imply causation. This presentation focuses on the semantic category of force dynamics proposed by linguist Leonard Talmy (1988). Talmy’s theory postulates that we see causation by applying a basic script: At the center of the action we see an agonist tending, which is influenced by an antagonist with the opposite tendency, to which the agonist reacts. From this configuration, a series of patterns emerge with which we glue events together in order to make sense of the world. These patterns can be of the causative type (an entity makes another entity do something), the despite type (an entity keeps doing something despite another entity’s influence), and the letting type (an entity allows another entity to do something). There are several reasons to believe that this model describes the psychology of causation[1]. First, the script of an antagonist impinging on an agonist, “underlies the meaning of the causal constructions in most, perhaps all, of the world’s languages” (Pinker 2007, p. 222). Second, Talmy’s theory exhibits strong parallels to Andrea diSessa’s notion of phenomenological primitives (compare Talmy 1988, p. 91; diSessa 1986). Third, Phillip Wolff’s (2007) experiments based on force dynamics have provided evidence that supports Talmy’s theory. Finally, Talmy’s model also resembles medieval theories of physics, which postulated an internal impetus in objects that led them to be at rest or in motion—modern physics, on the contrary, can be starkly counterintuitive (Talmy 1988, p. 92). Therefore, force dynamics can provide valuable insights about a central aspect of player psychology. This presentation argues that our interaction with virtual worlds relies on the detection of these force-dynamics patterns. While playing video games, players are on the lookout for entities that can be assigned the roles of agonist and antagonist, which allows them to elucidate the causal relations between said entities. Triggers—that is, entities that can initiate events in the gameworld—are of specific interest in this context[2]. While triggers are useful tools, they also have a disadvantage: they make time in video games player-centric, given that events do not occur unless the player character interacts with them. This brings about the first of two problems analyzed in this presentation. Events that are portrayed as being disconnected from player agency are actually caused by the player character’s presence. The player can detect these causal patterns, which can make time in games feel artificial. A second problem can be observed between the causal structure of the narrative and the mechanical layers of some games: the problem of freedom vs. urgency. The issue in question is typical of open-world games, which tell a story that conveys a sense of urgency while at the same time give players freedom to do what they please—often ignoring the story. The story typically resumes when the player interacts with an NPC or arrives at a location and activates a trigger. This presentation will resort to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (CD Projekt Red 2015) as a case study. In this game, the main character, Geralt, needs to find and help Ciri, a character running from the titular Wild Hunt. Even though Ciri’s predicament is a race against the clock, Geralt can spend indefinite amounts of time attending to numerous side quests and activities that distract him from this primary mission. These include contracts to hunt beasts, horse races, helping people in distress, and playing a card game called Gwent. The main story, however, will not continue unless Geralt actively returns to it. In this way, the player can enjoy the whole content of the game without missing out on the main events. The problem is that Geralt cannot let (in the force-dynamics sense) things happen in the main story by staying away from it. It can never be the case that Ciri is caught by the Wild Hunt because Geralt was busy playing Gwent. This, the presentation will argue, constitutes a case of ludonarrative dissonance. Thus, the theory of force dynamics not only helps understand how players detect causal relations in video games, but also points out aspects of the medium that can clash with our causal intuitions.

BIO Federico Alvarez Igarzábal studied Audiovisual Communications and Visual Arts in Córdoba, Argentina. He is currently working on his Ph.D. thesis on the topic of time in video games and time perception entitled “Time and Space in Video Games” at the Department of Media Culture and Theater of the University of Cologne and the Cologne Game Lab of the TH Köln – University of Applied Sciences. Additionally, he works as research assistant at the Cologne Game Lab. He is also a media artist and has exhibited his work in different galleries and museums in Argentina and Germany.

BIBLIOGRAPHY CD Projekt Red (2015): The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt [PC] CD Projekt Red. Warsaw, Poland. diSessa, Andrea A (1988). “Knowledge in Pieces,” in Constructivism in the Computer Age, edited by George Forman and Peter B. Pufall, 49-70. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers. Hume, David, Millican, P. F. (2007). An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Kahneman, Daniel (2011). Thinking, Fast and Slow. London: Penguin. Lewis, David (1973): “Causation,” in The Journal of Philosophy vol. 70, issue 17, pp. 556-567. Michotte, Albert (1963). The Perception of Causality. London: Methuen Pinker, Steven (2007). The Stuff of Thought. Language as a Window into Human Nature. New York: Penguin. Talmy, Leonard (1988). “Force Dynamics in Language and Cognition,” in Cognitive Science Vol. 12, pp. 49-100. Unreal Engine 4 Documentation (2014-2017). “Trigger Actors.” Accessed March 8, 2018. https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest/INT/Engine/Actors/Triggers/ Valve Developer Community Wiki (2016). “Triggers.” Last modified September 13, 2016. https://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/Triggers Wolff, Phillip (2007). “Representing Causation,” in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General vol. 136, no. 1, pp. 82-111. https://doi.org/10.1037/0096-3445.136.1.82

ENDNOTES [1] Theories of causation can be traced back at least to philosopher David Hume (2007), who postulated two prominent accounts. These are now known as constant conjunction and the counterfactual theory of causation. The former states that we observe causation after repeated occurrences of an event that end in the same result. The latter theory states that one can say that an event causes another, if the absence of the first event entails the absence of the second. But, as studies have shown, we do not need to see events repeatedly nor think in counterfactual terms to observe a causal relation. This presentation focuses on Talmy’s theory of force dynamics, which maps to our intuitive understanding of causation.

[2] The term “trigger” is borrowed from game-engine vernacular, but it is used here in a more general way that eschews specific technical details. The Unreal Engine 4 Documentation, for example, defines them as follows: “Triggers are Actors that are used to cause an event to occur when they are interacted with by some other object in the level. In other words, they are used to trigger events in response to some other action in the level.” (Unreal Engine 4 Documentation 2014-2017). The Valve Developer Community Wiki defines triggers as “entities which respond to the presence of other entities.” (Valve Developer Community Wiki 2016).

Markers of Subjective Perception in Larp

ABSTRACT. Based on J.-N. Thon's (2016) framework for analysing representations of character's subjective perception in film, video games and comic books, this paper studies representations of subjectivity in live-action role-playing. This is a direct continuation of two previous papers, one positioning larp as a narrative medium in the context of transmedia narratology, the other researching storyworld representation / interpretation by larp participants. The hereby presented text focuses on markers of subjectivity, their three types (narratorial, content, and representational) defined by Thon and the fourth (symbolic) by myself. The discussion is organised in three parts, corresponding with Thon's types of subjectivity: (quasi-)perceptual point of view, (quasi-)perceptual overlay, and internal worlds. The analysis confirms Thon's observations about the transmediality of some of the markers (e.g. the use of narratorial markers in larp is very similar to their use in (audio)visual media), and reveals the larp-specific nature and/or larp-specific usage of other markers.

12:00-13:20 Session 16D: Platforms
Location: D2 (43 posti)
Audiencing on Twitch
SPEAKER: Ben Egliston

ABSTRACT. Despite the growing academic interest in live-streaming platforms like Twitch, there is limited work that takes seriously the role that the interactivity of the platform plays in the experience of using and viewing live-streamed content (see Johnson & Woodcock, 2017; Smith et al., 2013). In this presentation, we will discuss the ways the Twitch platform connects with what Taylor (2016, after Bratich, 2008) calls ‘audience power’ (as applied to physical e-sports tournaments). Audience power is taken to mean the mediated capacity to affect and be affected (Bratich, 2008). In this work, we highlight the main ways that viewers on Twitch ‘audience’ such a way through the Twitch platform. They do not simply ‘passively’ receive information but are ‘actively’ involved in its reception. Moreover, consistent with Bratich’s theorization and footing in autonomist/Marxist media theory, we argue that audiencing through Twitch generates considerable economic value. Firstly, throughout the Twitch platform viewership is one of the most basic ways in which the audience is commoditized. Through simply displaying the number of viewers, both concurrently and in total, the platform leverages the (albeit minimal) ‘work’ of the audience to rank streams (with the most popular streams rising to the top) and for advertising content. The dominance of popular stream and streamers become reinforced by their popularity, clustering the viewing audience. Secondly, the chat window is one of the most prominent ways in which viewers can ‘audience’, and in turn a good example of how their affective labor constructs the appeal of watching live gaming on Twitch. Popular streams (several thousand viewers) on Twitch rarely involve meaningful chat; the sheer number of people commenting means that the speed of messages moving up the chat window is so fast, few comments can even be read by viewers. In this way, the chat window becomes a proxy for the noise audiences create when watching live sporting events, in turn impacting the way the event is received. Key moments of play – such as a Battlegrounds player in combat – are distinguished by the audience by the way the speed of the chat reflects the excitement of the content, actively altering the reception of the stream. Reflecting this value, the chat window can be replayed alongside recorded videos from Twitch to retain this element of the experience. Various emotes and badges are coupled to the active work involved in the chat window on Twitch, to both commoditize the audience but also construct clear hierarchies between ‘fans’ and mere ‘spectators’. Across different games, emotes (effectively emoticons, but often faces and brands) have specific meaning. In streams of DOTA2, the OSFROG ( ) emote is used in response to events within the game that involve an over-powered or unbalanced item or character in the game, and popular streams will frequently see the entire chat window dominated by a rapid flurry of this frog emote. This ingroup meme distinguishes fans from spectators, who do not understand the implied meaning of the term (it mocks the game’s creator ‘IceFrog’ and the ongoing, slow development of the game). Similarly, subscriber and mod badges that appear adjacent to a commenter’s username works to place viewers into a hierarchy based on their affective labour (in the case of volunteer mods) or genuine economic value (in the case of channel subscribers, who pay monthly fees). In these ways (and many others not covered in the scope of this abstract), we see how Twitch viewers are key to the experience of content on Twitch – and the ways their affective work of watching content on Twitch takes on economic value. In addition to helping make sense of the popularity of the Twitch platform (over 100 million visits per month), we argue this work helps connect the study of online livestreaming to prior work in the study of physical gaming tournaments (e.g. Taylor, 2016), and the need to always consider the important role that spectators play in any gaming context.

Implementing Intelligence: The Platform Culture of Intellivision

ABSTRACT. The Intellivision home game console, developed by Mattel Electronics in the late 1970s and early 1980s, is an understudied platform in the history of video games. The portmanteau “Intellivision” invokes the idea of an “intelligent television” while also alluding to the system’s intelligent vision as a game console. The system’s name functioned as a marketing maneuver that fought two-fronts simultaneously: elevating the system above the more popular (but less technologically sophisticated) Atari VCS while remediating the television (understood pejoratively as the idiot box). Yet, beyond these obvious implications, we argue that Mattel Electronics cultivated an aesthetics and pragmatics of intelligence that shaped the entire Intellivision platform: from the initial hardware design that sought to produce “sophisticated game play” (Chandler, 1982) to the design of the system’s unique controllers that resembled touch-button phones, from its library of games that often redefined play through notions of seriousness, strategy, education, and simulation to Mattel’s embrace of a modular and extendable platform that promoted an aesthetic of augmented intelligence. If the Intellivision did not have the processing power and memory for encoding complex artificial intelligence, then how was “intelligence” implemented into the system? This paper explores how cultural assumptions about intelligence were expressed within a platform containing severe technical limitations.

One way to examine platforms as social phenomena is via “etic” cultural analysis: that is, by making claims about characteristics of a platform that are not acknowledged as such from an insider or “emic” perspective. For instance, Nick Montfort and Mia Consalvo explored how the development of the Sega Dreamcast system “relates in important and interesting ways to the work of 20th century avant-garde movements” (2012) without claiming that Dreamcast developers understood what they were doing in terms of these art movements. Yet, what we call the “platform culture” of Intellivision was both emic and etic. Unlike “avant-garde” with respect to the Dreamcast, “intelligence” was an explicit and implicit marketing strategy, aesthetic, and pragmatic principle for the Intellivision.

This paper pursues two main goals. First, we develop the notion of “platform cultures” as one way to expand the conceptual frameworks of platform studies, treating platforms as social phenomena and culture as thoroughly immanent to the platform itself. For the Intellivision, “intelligence” was not simply a marketing slogan, but a social, aesthetic and pragmatic phenomena immanent to the entire development and deployment of the platform. We argue that approaching the Dreamcast in terms of the “avant-garde,” the Intellivision in terms of “intelligence,” the NES or Famicon in terms of “family” and so on, provides a perspectival social and cultural frame for analyzing a platform’s network of technical and computational affordances, game aesthetics, political economy, audiences, and transplatform relations.

Second, we analyze the significance of intelligence within the context of the Intellivision. How did the Intellivision’s design, development, games, and marketing foreground a particular expression of intelligence? How did Mattel Electronics’ aesthetics (and pragmatics) of intelligence influence specific technical features of the platform? We argue that the Intellivision’s implementation of intelligence was apparent within its comparative marketing strategies and privileging of visual realism, its emphasis on the modular extensibility of the platform, its technical design and development, and Mattel’s embrace of creative, immaterial labor practices.

First, the comparative framework often appeared in slogans from Mattel Electronics, such as “Once you compare, you’ll know,” asking consumers to leverage a visual intelligence based on the criteria of realism to understand the differences between Intellivision’s “advanced” graphics compared to its main rival the Atari VCS; moreover consumers and gamers were asked to compare gameplay and technical specifics of various systems where the Intellivision was often represented as the proper choice for sophisticated, “intelligent” gamers. Second, the modular extensibility of the Intellivision—through various technical peripherals—produced an imaginary of augmented human intelligence including the addition of speech (Intellivoice), creativity and learning (the Keyboard Component and Entertainment Computer System with synthesizer), 24/7 network connectivity that promised unlimited “serious play” (the Playcable system), and even hints of transplatform infiltration and corporate espionage (the System Changer that could play Atari CVS games). Third, the technical, “intelligent” design of the Intellivision, including its system architecture, a basic operating system known as the EXEC, and inclusion of onboard Graphics ROM (for predefined graphics) and Graphics RAM (for programmer defined graphics) emphasized automatic programming, encapsulation, and “smart” reuse while allowing computational resources for individualized experimentation and creativity. Fourth, like Atari, Mattel Electronics embraced prescient ideas of intelligence as play, explicitly blurring boundaries between work and play, labor and leisure, within its programming culture.

Overall, we argue that these aspects of an aesthetic of intelligence and the platform culture that embraced an “intelligent vision” represents nothing less than an implicit theory of the progressive human that foreshadows and informs some of the most consequential cultural discussions of our current time, including issues of creative labor, tensions between innovation and repetition, the proliferation of “smart” devices as extensions of human creativity, and transformation of frivolous fun and play into intellectual seriousness. Our analysis of Intellivision’s aesthetic of intelligence demonstrates that etic and emic cultural analyses of platforms provides a perspectival, interpretative lens that expands the conceptual frameworks of platform studies. Moreover, given the increasing ubiquity of artificial intelligence in contemporary, everyday life our paper offers a snapshot of a particular historical situation where “intelligence” was implicitly and explicitly implemented into a technical platform through a set of practices and assumptions that have shaped the present moment.

The Women of Twitch: The Affordances of Live-Streaming Digital Games

ABSTRACT. The last few years have seen massive growth in the popularity of live-streaming video games. The most prominent live-streaming platform Twitch.tv reports that nearly 10 million unique users access their site each day to watch just over 2 million unique streamers, for an average of 106 minutes each (Twitch, 2017). Live-streaming is quickly becoming one of the major conduits through which video game information, culture, and money travel. It is widely recognized that women and girls make up almost as much of the game-playing population as men and boys (Duggan, 2015; ESA Canada, 2016), yet women and girls remain underrepresented in Twitch.tv’s userbase (Twitch, 2014).

This paper employs the lens of ‘affordances’, ‘constraints’, and ‘conventions’ to analyze the ways the Twitch.tv platform shapes the practices, meanings, and uses that emerge around live-streaming video games with particular attention to female streamers and their audiences. Norman (1999, pg. 41) explains that affordances “specify the range of possible activities” for a given object or device, though he is careful to distinguish between physical and digital environments. He specifies that in digital environments designers are left with mostly perceived affordances and the interplay of conventions and constraints to guide users. Put simply, perceived affordances are the range of activities a user believes are available to them, while a “convention is a constraint in that it prohibits some activities and encourages others” (Norman, 1999, pg. 41). Norman’s work provides a useful framework for interrogating how people use the Twitch.tv platform.

In his work on YouTube video game commentators, Postigo (2014) considers social practices around labour/leisure and the affordances which have enabled these social practices to become part of a commercial framework that benefits YouTube economically. Postigo however, does not discuss the conventions or constraints in the design of the platform, instead distinguishing between technological and social affordances. Although these perspectives are similar, I argue that the notions of perceived affordances, conventions, and constraints offer a nuanced analysis of a given platform’s features. Further, Postigo’s work is based entirely on YouTubers who have achieved a great deal of success through the platform. As Duffy (2015, 2017) points out, media research often neglects the perspectives of people on the margins of technology and media. As such, this paper intentionally includes data from streamers who inhabit identities that are often relegated to the margins of gaming culture (and more broadly technology/media) and small-scale streams that have not amassed large followings.

This paper is a subset of a larger project and its findings are derived from the analysis of 3 x 30-minute recordings of live-streams by 50 individual female streamers. The paper begins with an examination/explanation of the features of the Twitch.tv platform, such as: the stream directory, set design, hosting, chat, bits/cheering, follow button, and subscribe button. I then interrogate the perceived affordances, conventions, and constraints around those features, as well as how streamers/users talk about them during the streams. I conclude with a discussion of how the perceived affordances, conventions, and constraints shape the practices, meanings, and uses that have emerged through use of the Twitch.tv platform.

Revision of Queer Bodies: Modifications of Sexual Affordances in World of Warcraft

ABSTRACT. In queering gameplay, cues of sexuality concentrate the possibilities of action communicated by (avatar) design. However, many games such as Blizzard’s World of Warcraft (Blizzard 2004) ensure the erasure of queerness by “correcting” threats on heteronormative gameplay - updating the “queer bugs” which permit the gamer to embody queerness. Centering a discussion of gaming as an embodied experience through avatar design, this paper explores how scripted values may constrain online performance, allowing a player to express queerness in World of Warcraft (WoW). Notably, this paper explores the alterations invested in avatar bodies and how they influence sexual affordances for gamers, compromising queer gameplay when the game is patched, or as new expansions are released.

12:00-13:20 Session 16E: General
Location: D3 (73 posti)
Through Games. Uses, Practices and Habits.

ABSTRACT. While the activity of playing have grown in popularity in the last decades, game studies mainly investigated digital games and the human behavior while interacting with this specific medium rather than on the activity itself. Our goal was to study players and players’ behaviour independently from the medium, device or game with which the activity is carried on. To this goal, we designed on online survey in which many forms of playing have been investigated, including digital, live, traditional and role-playing, but with an emphasis on the common aspects rather than on differences. The survey was compiled by 1905 italian participants. Here we present the data regarding playing habits, motivations, social aspects and gender issues.

(Game) Design methods in Game Studies

ABSTRACT. Numerous contributions for game design have been proposed over the last decades within Game Studies. These proposals have been labeled as methods for design or design methods independently of their characteristics, level of abstraction and usefulness while designing. However, several theorists have noted the lack of means to support game designers in their practice within the discipline. Design methods are means to guide designers in their design practice to reach a desired design situation. Then, which of the most prominent game design contributions actually constitute a design method? This paper aims at answering this question in order to envision the practicality of the different game design proposals and the support they provide game designers in their practice.

Good Game Feel: An Empirically Grounded Framework for Juicy Design
SPEAKER: Kieran Hicks

ABSTRACT. Juicy design refers to the idea that large amounts of audiovisual feedback contribute to a positive player experience. While the concept is popular in the game design community, definitions of the concept remain vague, and it is difficult to analyze which elements contribute to whether a game is perceived as juicy. In this paper, we address this issue through a combination of industry perspectives and academic analysis to provide a more detailed understanding of contributors to juicy design. We present results from an online survey that received responses from 17 game developers, and create an affinity diagram to derive a framework that facilitates the analysis of juicy design rooted in developers’ perspectives. Through application to two commercially available games, we refine the framework, and contribute a tool that makes the idea of juiciness actionable for researchers and designers.

Make Tents, Not War: Queer Play as Play-That-CritiquesCritical play, queer play, play studies, play fiction, play-that-critiques

ABSTRACT. See extended abstract.

12:00-13:20 Session 16F: Meta-play: panel
Location: D4 (76 posti)
An Embodied Turn: Game Studies Across Worlds and Bodies

ABSTRACT. Perspectival rendering, first person perspective, ray tracing, and virtual reality: the graphic technologies and ocularcentric ideologies surrounding the production and consumption of contemporary videogames often celebrate fantasies of escapism, dematerialization, and disembodiment (Mitchell 1992). Art historian Martin Jay (1988) has described this entanglement perspective and consciousness as the “scopic regime of modernity,” a way of thinking that stretches from the Italian Renaissance to the VR Renaissance. From the dogged pursuit of the increased resolutions and quickening frame rates of contemporary graphics technologies (Nideffer 2007), to the commitment to head mounted displays and augmented reality eyepieces (Carmack 2011, Abrash 2017), to the render farms turned Bitcoin mines that operate as a backend for financial play (Golumbia 2016, Ensmenger Forthcoming), videogames and videogame technologies participate in this ocularcentric and disembodied regime. In Remediation, Bolter and Grusin (1999) called it the “dream of immediacy.” In Rules of Play, Salen Tekinbaş and Zimmerman (2004) called it the “immersive fallacy.” In contrast to these utopian visions, the goal of this panel is to examine both the material, historical, and embodied practices of play and the broader “embodied turn” occurring in game studies and game making in the twenty first century.

Of course, the body and its relation to media is an enduring concern. From Plato’s Allegory of the Cave to Pliny’s Myths of Mimesis, the body always figures in image-making. In the twentieth century, Siegfried Kracauer’s (1995) notes on the “mass ornament” registered in mass culture a Taylorist rationalisation of the body and Marshall McLuhan’s (1964) notion of the “extensions of man” continues this engagement into televisual and electronic media. Formative works for contemporary cinema studies also take up this question, such as Laura Mulvey’s (1975) idea of “visual pleasure” and Tom Gunning’s (1986) notion of the “cinema of attractions”--both of which, albeit in very different ways, pushed back against understandings of film that prioritised narrative or semiotic frameworks. Following both Bernard Stiegler’s (1998) philosophical expansion of Andre Leroi-Gourhan’s (1993) anthropological work and the relationship between McLuhan and Friedrich Kittler’s (1999) media theory, thinkers like N. Katherine Hayles (1999) and Mark B. N. Hansen (2004) articulate the deeply material and embodied aspects of even the most fragmented, informatic, networked, and ubiquitous digital media. Following this work and given the ways in which games both celebrate and disavow the body of the player, videogames operate as a paradigmatic site for problematizing, performing, playing with embodiment.

Bodies have always mattered in videogames: fingers flicking buttons or tapping keys, wrists wriggling mice or twisting joysticks, chords tangled around table legs and winding through rooms, heat emanating from hardware and dust settling on internal components--bodies at play. Whether human or nonhuman, without these players there is no play. Over the last decade, and especially since 2008, there has been a dramatic rise in research methods and game design practices focused on or starting from the body of the player to understand the videogame experience as played. There are studies that engage the materiality of games and effort (Aarseth 1997, Connor 2007), games and art (Galloway 2004, Flanagan 2007), games and processes (Wardrip-Fruin 2009, Bogost 2006), games and platforms (Montfort and Bogost 2009), games and gender (Flanagan 2007, Chess 2017), games and sexuality (Shaw 2014, Ruberg and Shaw 2017), games and history (Guins 2014, Nooney 2013), games and sport (Taylor 2012, Witkowski 2017).

Engaging specifically with the relation between bodies and games, early works like David Sudnow’s (1979) Pilgrim in the Microworld offer an intimate story of how personal biography and phenomenology come into play even with seemingly straightforward games like Breakout. More recently, Steve Swink’s (2009) Game Feel articulates the relationship between those microtemporal processes at stake in both computation and cognition. Videogame developers, too, are increasingly having these conversations around topics like game feel, and experimenting with new genres focused less on narrative or mechanical pleasures and more the experiential and phenomenal site of play. For example, based on Emily Short’s (2008) short post on making Interactive Fiction “juicy,” the popular talk by Martin Jonasson and Petri Purho (2012) called “Juice it or Lose it”--also featuring Breakout--demonstrated the ways in which visual and sonic responses to even trivial input can produce intense bodily reactions.

Following this historical trajectory, this panel will examine game and media studies’ conceptualisations of embodiment, placing these discourses in relation to the wider “embodied turn” in design towards haptics, tactility, and the body that is perhaps most clearly legible in technologies and platforms such as VR, AR and locative gaming. Exploring the performativity, phenomenology, and practices of gameplay and game making, panelists will attempt to update the concept of game feel, consider concepts of performativity in virtual reality, and think through forms of nonhuman embodiment and entropy in esports and economics.

Aarseth, E. 1997. Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press. Abrash, M. 2017. VR's Grand Challenge: Michael Abrash on the Future of Human Interaction. Oculus Blog. July 24. https://www.oculus.com/blog/vrs-grand-challenge-michael-abrash-on-the-future-of-human-interaction/ Bogost, I. 2006. Unit Operations: An Approach to Videogame Criticism. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Bolter, J. and R. Grusin. 1999. Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Chess, S. 2017 Ready Player Two. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Connor, S. 2011. A Philosophy of Sport. London, England: Reaktion Books. Ensmenger, N. Forthcoming 2018. “Dirty Bits: An Environmental History of Computing.” Flanagan, M. 2009. Critical Play: Radical Game Design. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Galloway, A. 2006. Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture. Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press. Golumbia, David. 2016. The Politics of Bitcoin: Software as Right-Wing Extremism. Minneapolis, Minn: Minnesota UP.. Guins, R. 2014. Game After: A Cultural Study of Video Game Afterlife. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Gunning, T. 1986. “The Cinema of Attraction: Early Film, Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde.” Wide Angle 8, no. 3/4: 63–70. Hansen, M. 2006. New Philosophy for New Media. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Hayles, N. Katherine. 1999. How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Chicago, Ill: University of Chicago Press. Jay, M. 1988. “Scopic Regimes of Modernity.” In Vision and Visuality, ed. Hal Foster, 3–23. Seattle, Wash.: Bay Press. Kracauer, S. 1995. The Mass Ornament: Weimar Essays. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. McLuhan, M. 1994. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. Mitchell, W. 1994. Reconfigured Eye: Visual Truth in the Post-Photographic Era. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1994. Montfort, N. and I. Bogost. 2009. Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Nideffer, R. 2007. “Game Engines as Embedded Systems.” Database Aesthetics: Art in the Age of Information Overflow, ed. Victoria Vesna, 211–42. Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press. Nooney, L. 2013. “A Pedestal, A Table, A Love Letter: Archaeologies of Gender in Videogame History.” Game Studies 13, no. 2. http://gamestudies.org/1302/articles/nooney. Ruberg, B. and A. Shaw. 2017. Queer Game Studies. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Salen Tekinbaş, K. and E. Zimmerman. 2004. Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Shaw, A. 2014. Gaming at the Edge. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Short, E. 2008. “Make it juicy!” Emily Short's Interactive Storytelling. May 24. https://emshort.blog/2008/05/24/make-it-juicy/. Stiegler, B. 1998. Technics and Time: The Fault of Epimetheus. Trans. Richard Beardsworth and George Collins. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. Swink, S. 2009. Game Feel: A Game Designer’s Guide to Virtual Sensation. Amsterdam: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers. Taylor, T.L. 2012. Raising the Stakes: E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Witkowski, E. and J. Manning. 2017. “Playing with(out) Power: Negotiated conventions of high performance networked play practices.” Digital Games Research Association Conference Proceedings. July 3-6. Melbourne Australia.

13:20-14:30Lunch Break
14:30-15:50 Session 17A: General: panel

Panel - Next Level: Creating Larger Research Units in Game Studies

Next Level: Creating Larger Research Units in Game Studies
SPEAKER: Frans Mäyrä

ABSTRACT. From often modest starting points, research of games has grown in scale and academic recognition. There are multiple degree programs, research groups, journals, conference series and scholarly associations in this broad-ranging, interdisciplinary field, focused on games, play and game players in various ways.

In recent years larger units of institutional organisation in game studies have emerged in the field, reflecting the growing maturity and sustained efforts of the academics working in game studies. The speakers in this panel will provide examples of some of this kind of initiatives, explain how they got there, and what to take into consideration while planning for “big initiatives” in this field.

More detailed panel questions relate to e.g.

  • Planning of long-term and large-scale research initiatives in game studies
  • What is a ‘Centre of Excellence’ and how it differs from a more ‘regular’ research project or a regular center/department?
  • How is ‘excellence’ judged in these kinds of initiatives, and what do academics working in games research need to take into account while pursuing it?
  • Are this kind of larger initiatives (by necessity, by design) particularly interdisciplinary, and what is the role of game studies within such a centres?
  • How can these larger units of institutional organization foster a closer interdependence and more productive relationship between academic and artistic research, i.e., between research in game studies and research in game design?
  • What steps could we take to increase the international cooperation between these larger centers teaching and researching digital games?

This panel is of interest to the DiGRA 2018 community because of the evolution of the research field: with growing maturity, more senior scholars are increasingly in position to put forward more ambitious initiatives with specific focus on games. The experiences of those who have already gained success in establishing such centres and programs, should provide valuable lessons to share.


Frans Mäyrä (panel chair) is the Professor of Information Studies and Interactive Media, with specialization in digital culture and game studies in the University of Tampere, Finland. Since 2002, he has been heading the University of Tampere Game Research Lab, having taught and studied digital culture and games from the early 1990s, having over 160 publications in these research fields. His research interests range from game cultures, meaning making through playful interaction and online social play, to borderlines, identity, as well as transmedial fantasy and science fiction. He is the director of the Academy of Finland funded Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies (2018-2025).

Espen Aarseth is professor of game studies and head of the Center for Computer Games Research at the IT University of Copenhagen.  He holds a Cand.Philol. in comparative literature and a Dr.Art. in humanistic informatics, both from the University of Bergen. He is co-founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal Game Studies (2001-), and author of Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature (Johns Hopkins UP 1997), a comparative media theory of games and other aesthetic forms. He recently received an ERC Advanced Grant for the project MSG ­- Making Sense of Games (2016-2021).

Jen Jenson is Professor of Pedagogy and Technology and the Director for the Institute for Research on Digital Learning. She is the Principal Investigator for a Canadian funded, international partnership grant, Re-Figuring Innovation in Games, that is working to study and intervene in the hostile cultures, especially for those who identify as women, of game making and play (www.refig.ca). She is co-founder and co-editor of Loading: The Journal of the Canadian Game Studies Association. She has published on games and learning, games and gender, and game culture, among other topics.

Gundolf S. Freyermuth is Professor of Media and Game Studies and co-founding Director of the Cologne Game Lab at the Technical University Cologne. He also teaches as Associate Professor of Comparative Media Studies at the ifs international film school Cologne. He has been and is the principal investigator for several third-party funded research projects and co-chairs the board of the annual research conference Clash of Realities—On the Art, Technology, and Theory of Digital Games. He has written and (co-)edited more than 20 books. His most recent English language publication is Games | Game Design | Game Studies. An Introduction (2015).

Mia Consalvo is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Game Studies and Design at Concordia University in Montreal. She is the co-author of Players and their Pets, co-editor of Sports Videogames and author of Cheating: Gaining Advantage in Videogames. She has most recently published the book Atari to Zelda: Japan's Videogames in Global Context, about Japan's influence on the videogame industry and game culture. Mia runs the mLab, a space dedicated to developing innovative methods for studying games and game players.

Hiroshi Yoshida, PhD, is a full professor of aesthetics and game studies at Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan, and an exchanging lecturer at Leipzig University. He is one of the co-founders of Ritsumeikan Center for Game Studies (RCGS) and the organizers of annual conference on game studies: Replaying Japan. He has been interested in and writing on video games in the viewpoints of aesthetics, semiotics and cognitive science.

14:30-15:50 Session 17B: Meaning-making
Location: C1 (82 posti)
Archival Adventuring

ABSTRACT. In Archival Adventures, players comb through inert objects, papers, bookshelves, picture albums, computer programs, and other documents to piece a story together. The larger version of this project compares the effects of Archival Adventuring in a physical environment like House of Eternal Return and a virtual one like What Remains of Edith Finch. In both, the inert space the player explores is 'charged' by the awareness that, because anything can be meaningful, everything is.

From Silent NPC to Active Consumer : Representing Female in Chinese Video Game Culture

ABSTRACT. The past decade has witnessed a dramatic increase on the population of Chinese female players, contributing more to national video game market.This paper, focusing on games that have been popular among girls, present a panorama of gender stereotype representation in Chinese video game culture. By the conception of representation from Stuart Hall, it chronicles three historical periods in Chinese video game culture since 1990s, during which three types of female stereotypes,which include silent “NPC”, subculture prosumer and active consumers, have been formed collaboratively by game industry, trends of popular culture and players themselves.

BioWare, Eroticism and Modernity

ABSTRACT. In this presentation, we intend to consider the paradoxical combination of the emancipatory and neutralizing factors active in portrayal of sexuality in Mass Effect and Dragon Age series. We will consider the plots and gameworlds of the discussed games in terms of the disruption of the private/public division brought by the player’s telepresence. Specifically, we intend to argue that the emancipatory potential of PC’s erotic pursuits is not only neutralized in the narrative dimension of the game by being detached from its political aspects of the plot, but also transformed into a trap for the player’s agency. As a result, the emancipatory potential of sexual inclusiveness embraced by the BioWare games proves limited by a construction of sexuality as something private and isolated from the sphere of political agency. As postulated by Friedrich Nietzsche and further argued by Michel Foucault, such an approach to sexuality is characteristic of modernity and its paradigm of a controlled and governtmentalized identity.

Body Horror as Body Shaming: Fatness and Monstrosity in Video Games

ABSTRACT. The study of representation in video games has been a crucial area of inquiry, especially as conversations about the cultural ramifications of stereotypical or harmful representations have entered popular discourse. Although the study of representation in games is a rich and growing area, most scholarship which focuses on representations of marginalized bodies has focused on sexualization and exoticization, whereas few studies have addressed the ways in which certain bodies are framed as horrific, repulsive, and abject in games. This proposed presentation contributes to this area of inquiry by using textual and visual analysis methods to investigate the representation of fatness in a selection of commercially successful and critically acclaimed games, its common use as a horror trope, and how the offensive and often gendered association between fatness, disability, mental illness, and monstrosity contributes to the alienation and “othering” of already marginalized and vulnerable groups of people. The objective of this research is to deconstruct how video games frame female and male monsters and antagonists as repulsive and horrifying due to their fatness. This presentation will include a discussion of the physical representation, in-game behaviour, and narrative function of these characters and creatures; how they fit into established conventions and tropes in horror, science fiction, and fantasy media; and a brief look at fan, critic, and developer discourse about them.

14:30-15:50 Session 17E: Context
Location: D3 (73 posti)
Next gen? A critical examination of historical periodization in video games

ABSTRACT. The goal of this paper is to provide a critical overview of periodization categories used in various discourses on video games, focusing on the notion of “generations”.

Landscape Trouble: Why we are surrounded by climate change games

ABSTRACT. Landscape theory can demonstrate how computer games reflect back to us the upheavals in contemporary relationships with the physical environment. In a recent paper, Benjamin Abraham and Darshana Jayemanne asked ‘where are all the climate change games?’ To answer this question, I take existing studies of computer games as landscape, and formalise them into a more comprehensive methodology that reveals the vision of landscape that games are reflecting. I argue that when we look closely at the landscapes being created by computer games, we will find that most, if not all of them are already climate change games.

Beyond Paratexts, Towards Paratextuality: A Case for Granular Analysis of Video Game Paratextuality

ABSTRACT. The paper presents an updated framework of Genette's concept of paratextuality based on a thorough review of paratextual theory, including the influential expansions of the framework by Mia Consalvo and Jonathan Gray. The new framework is then supported by an empirical analysis of twelve video game trailers focused both on their formal qualities and their audience reception.

14:30-15:50 Session 17F: Context: panel

Panel - (Trans)mediality and Playership in and around Japanese Videogames

Location: D4 (76 posti)
(Trans)mediality and Playership in and around Japanese Videogames

ABSTRACT. This panel seeks to contribute to the emerging body of research aimed at analyzing the cultural and historical significance of Japanese videogames in their local context and beyond. Our goal is to go beyond the consideration of games as isolated artifacts and explore their connections with other media and fan practices. This approach will allow us to examine how games are constructed, interpreted, and reinterpreted as parts of transmedia universes and of wider media environments where local cultural identities come into play. It will also enable us to establish a more nuanced connection between Japanese games and their players, whose experience of the game is also shaped through interactions with paratexts and transmedia texts surrounding it, many of which are created by players themselves (cf. Walsh & Apperley 2008). The focus on the properties of different media will also make it possible to ponder upon the mediatic specificity of Japanese games and gaming culture.

By mapping out connections between Japanese games, their diverse audiences, and other media, we aim to further the understanding of Japan’s global and regional influence in gaming (cf. Consalvo 2009), while contextualizing Japanese games within their native “transmedia location” (Jenkins 2016) and bringing out the distinct “cultural fragrance” (Iwabuchi 2004) that often mediates between the two.

15:50-16:20Coffee Break
16:20-17:40 Session 18B: Context: panel

Panel - Beyond the Core Development Team: Exploring Emerging Roles and Responsibilities in the Global Game Industry

Location: C1 (82 posti)
Beyond the Core Development Team: Exploring Emerging Roles and Responsibilities in the Global Game Industry
SPEAKER: Jan Svelch

ABSTRACT. The global video game industry is often depicted as being in a constant state of flux. As business models, distribution platforms and production networks are transforming, also the everyday division and organization of labor change. For instance, removing the publisher as an “unnecessary” middleman does not mean that such tasks as marketing, partner sourcing, and customer relationships just magically vanish (Tyni 2017). New positions, such as community managers and monetization experts, are created within studios or outsourced to expert companies and freelancers. At the same time, previously marginalized roles, such as voice actors, are calling for more attention. This panel will focus on the game industry positions that often get little attention and the novel roles that are spawned by phenomena such as eSports, the availability of player data or crowdfunding.

Expanding the scope of video game production studies beyond the notion of a “core development team”, i.e. mainly designers, programmers and artists, allows us to evaluate larger changes in game development, map the multiple actors within the field and discuss the importance of understanding different production ecosystems. How does the idea of “below-the-line” laborers (Caldwell 2014; Gray 2010) fit the contemporary game industries? Can the idea of “cultural intermediaries”, recently applied by Parker, Whitson & Simon (2017) to North-American indie games, help us understand the larger dynamics within the global game industry? Turning the focus to less prestigious industry positions and the surrounding cultural practices provides an avenue to study the power relations between more established actors and the entirely new ones. After all, the global video game industry no longer consists only of developers and publishers but includes a wide range of other roles, such as eSports shoutcasters, monetization experts or voice-actors.

16:20-17:40 Session 18D: Context
Location: D2 (43 posti)
The Moral Calculus of Vocational Passion in Digital Gaming

ABSTRACT. This paper uses multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork with games industry aspirants to examine the moral calculus patterning beliefs about how passionate employment compensates for precarity and workaholism, and how serious leisure careers stand in for narratives of professional development that elude many job seekers in the new economy.

Depleted Hearts: Coping and ‘Self-Care’ in Gaming Culture

ABSTRACT. This paper unpacks the discourse of ‘self-care’ expressed by players and game developers as a recurrent response to gaming’s toxic cultures (i.e. online harassment, misogyny, precarity, and crunch culture).

Discourses of "realism" in game journalism

ABSTRACT. This project looks at the various meanings of "realism" in a sample of game journalism. The paper argues that realism is a contested term that is used to perform and shape a particular form of gamer identity.

Indie Game: The Movie: The Paper – Documentary Films and the Subfield of Independent Games

ABSTRACT. This paper examines documentary films about independent games and game developers, focusing on their rhetorical and ideological potential with regards to the subfield of independent digital games and the figures and works operating therein. I employ the conceptual framework developed by Bourdieu and analyze the documentary films using critical discourse analysis method of Fairclough, moving from micro-level descriptions of formal elements of the documentary films towards their macro-level discursive and sociocultural contextualizations. While all the films analyzed as part of the corpus exhibit formal similarities and predominantly positively highlight the practice of independent game development, they also feature stylistic, ideological and rhetorical differences which could be explained by taking into account the different primary focus of each of the films, the contrasting socio-cultural factors related to their chosen subject matter, as well as the time of their release and the state of the corresponding independent games scene at the time.

16:20-17:40 Session 18E: Users
Location: D3 (73 posti)
If You Guild it, They Will Come: Organizational Leadership in Games
SPEAKER: Cindy Krassen

ABSTRACT. Stephen Gillett’s story has become famous: without any relevant educational background, and after years of wasting his time on World of Warcraft (Blizzard, 2004), he got a job at Yahoo. Why? Gillett’s CV showed that his experience being a guild leader in the game taught him all the relevant skills: human resource management, logistics, leadership. Indeed, Gillett went on to work as Chief Information Officer at Starbucks, then as Executive Vice-President at Semantec, then at Google.

Following stories such as Gillett’s, and ever since the rise and popularity of World of Warcraft in 2004, video games have been credited with creating the “next generation of CEOs” (Beck & Wade, 2004; cf. Reeves, Malone & Driscoll, 2008; Ee & Cho, 2012). Indeed, the past 15 years have seen publications in business and management literature touting the potential for games to teach young people how to lead and organize large groups of people. But when (if at all) they actually do so, how does that even work? In other words, what kind of organizations do they set up, how do these come to exist and who is elevated to the status of leader? In other words, which players get to become Stephen Gillett, when others are just playing a game?

Unfortunately, previous literature approaches the phenomenon deductively from one of two reductionist perspectives: as either neo-liberal theorization regarding the economic virtues of using games for leadership education (Beck & Wade, 2004; Ee & Cho, 2012); or instead revelling in neo-marxist condemnations of these games as corporate training machines and as vehicles for capitalist ideology (Rettberg, 2008). Such previous scholarship has insufficiently engaged with the phenomenon of leadership in video games empirically, on the basis of more than anecdotal evidence, content analyses and occasional auto-ethnography.

Lastly, the literature overwhelmingly looks at just one case, that of World of Warcraft. This introduces a number of problems. Including, firstly, an exaggeration of the importance of one game, which draws less than 4 million players per month within one of the biggest cultural industries of the 21st century. Compared to other titles, e.g., League of Legends (Riot Games, 2009), which draws in 27 million players each day, World of Warcraft is methodologically an illegitimate focus for such singular study. Secondly, by looking at only one game, the specificities between games are eliminated – much like comparing chess to football or choreography – and should not be used to generalized one case (that of 4 million players) to the entirety of video game consumption, which counts about 2.2 billion people across races, ages and genders, in an industry that surpasses even film in revenue (ESA, 2017; Newzoo, 2017). Instead, the enthusiastic literature on leadership in games takes small, unempirically grounded cases to generalize its claims to the entirety of “games” (Reeves & Malone, 2008; Scholz, 2010) or even the “gamer generation” (Beck & Wade, 2004; 2006).

By contrast, this paper contributes to the literature by looking empirically at: which players find themselves in leadership positions in different games? How do they become leaders? And what kinds of organizations do they set up in order to run their organizations? In other words, this paper looks beyond the unempirical and singular monolithic research on World of Warcraft leadership, and does so inductively, on the basis of interviews with N=64 ‘guild,’ team or ‘clan’ leaders of four games. That is, the popular games Counter-Strike [CS], League of Legends [LoL], Guild Wars 2 [GW] and the long-running MMORPG RuneScape [RS] (Valve, 2000; ArenaNet, 2012; Jagex, 2001).

Without a background in management education and without work experience as a manager in business, these leaders manage guilds, teams and other groups (or ‘Online Gaming Organizations’ [OGOs]) on the amateur or professional level, in OGOs numbering from five to several hundreds of members in size. Data more specifically consists of N=64 OGO-leaders of the four games (N=15 CS, N=17 LoL, N=16 GW and N=16 RS leaders), of which 25 are now in offline management positions and 14 of which participated at one point in professional ‘esports’ teams as player or coach. On the basis thereon, the paper produces three ideal-typical organizational structures based on different stages and sizes of OGOs.

The paper concludes that the organizational structures that emerge are at first ephemeral, gendered and charisma-based. Secondly, the ‘start-up’ stage draws on the traditional authority of a small group of established, original leaders making top-down decisions. Thirdly, bigger and long-standing guilds move into a corporate phase, which guild leaders describe as initially akin to parenting, developing into elaborate systems of bureaucracy and democratic decision-making. In all, the paper sheds light on the emergence of ‘serious’ leadership in a playful setting, in which players freely come to adopt professional business management styles.

“A pure meritocracy blind to identity”: Exploring the Online Responses to All-Female Teams in Reddit
SPEAKER: Miia Siutila

ABSTRACT. Despite recent growth and popularity, esports as a scene is struggling with a number of problems ranging from payment problems and cheating to questionable treatment based on various factors such as race and gender. In this paper we seek to uncover how perceptions of women in esports are guided by stereotypes of all-female teams and ‘girl-gamers’. Our data consists of 952 reddit-comments on two announcements of all-female teams in League of Legends and Counter-Strike:Global Offensive. The nature of esports was seen as a working meritocracy where only player skill matters. Especially all-female teams were perceived to be a threat to this order, since they lack dedication and have ulterior motives for playing the game. Ultimately, getting to visibly exist as a woman in the scene was a reward for compliance in the esports meritocracy: exhibiting skill, playing in mixed teams and tolerating harassment.

Video games as an extension of youth? Gaming among third age people

ABSTRACT. In contemporary societies, demographic and technological changes overlap. The increasing proportion of older persons is considered as a global phenomenon affecting nearly all aspects of social life (United Nations 2015, p. 1). Moreover, it results in the increase in the population of mature and senior gamers. A research conducted by Pew Internet & American Life Project in 2008 exposed the potential of mature and senior gamers who accounted for 40% (age group 50-64 years) and 23% (age group >65 years), respectively, of all adult American gamers (see Lenhart, Jones, Macgill, 2008). For Europeans, the 2012 ISFE study showed that 28% of males and 27% of females aged between 55 and 64 years played video games (2012, p. 9). Although these figures are less impressive in Poland, with only 22% of males and 19% of females aged 55-64 years declaring the practice of gaming (ISFE, 2012, p. 9), there is some evidence that this activity has become a more popular practice among Polish seniors (see Czapiński, Błędowski, 2013, p. 60; Bachórz et al., 2016, p. 29; Olszewski, 2016). Unfortunately, this cultural involvement of third age Polish people has not been analyzed before. To present the main subject of my speech, which is discussion on increasing role of seniors in gaming industry and culture, I will provide some insights in the topic of gaming among Polish seniors by using them as one of examples in my presentation. Surprisingly, people in their third age, which might be understood as a period of life followed by retirement, when adults still have relatively good physical, emotional and cognitive performance and are able to participate in many activities, including leisure and entertainment (see Gilleard, Higgs, 2008; Barnes, 2011) – are likely to be more interested in gaming that those in their middle age (see Lenhart, Jones, Macgill, 2008; Cookman, Mena, 2016, p. 2). This is a promising observation considering the possibilities of life-long learning and personal development among people in later life who might be interested in gaming. This is because some prior research provides reliable findings indicating that video games might bring certain advantages in different and important domains, such as cognitive, motivational, emotional, and social domain (see Granic, Lobel, Engels, 2013). Thus, it seems that some senior gamers might find gaming a useful tool to maintain or regain qualities which are usually related to youth and help to reduce the negative consequences of aging. Especially considering the fact that some seniors might not differ from young adults in terms of positive (like fun or relaxation) experiences from gaming (Nap, de Kort, IJsselsteijn, 2009, p. 259). Although it is important to understand the benefits of gaming, I would like to look beyond that and provide convincing arguments that the category of third aged gamers will gain on importance in the future. To achieve this goal, I will try to develop a comprehensive approach to the role of third age people in gaming industry and culture. I will address the role of environmental conditions for gaming popularization among third age people on both individual and social level. To describe the individual (or personal) level I will refer to one of my previous studies in which I decided to focus on self-descriptions published by members of two public internet forums for adult gamers: Senior Gamers (www.seniorgamers.net) and The Older Gamers (www.theoldergamers.com). In order to obtain information on their characteristics (including their gaming history, motivations and expectations), I analyzed messages published in the introduction sections of the mentioned message boards (titled “The Barracks” and “Introduction”). Although the range of interesting forum posts extends from 2005 to the present, the amount of investigated data was limited to messages in which authors decided to reveal their age. Moreover, only posts published by users aged >50 years were taken into consideration. This study can be labeled as a digital ethnographic, which addresses different forms of technologically mediated communication and covers some types of online data and specific techniques of data collection (Varis, 2016, p. 55). Not limiting myself to the personal experiences of senior gamers, I will describe the social level by making references to socio-economic and cultural factors which shape living conditions of the oldest members of contemporary societies. Poland and other European countries will be considered for the purpose of this presentation. The importance of family, institutions, pension and healthcare systems, public policies or general cultural and economic shifts in shaping habits (including leisure time activities, e.g. gaming) among third age people will be stressed in a qualitative content analysis of selected documents (e.g. reports, articles), films (e.g. programs about senior gamers) and internet texts (e.g. social networks content, websites of institutions). The study should lead to conclusions that not only reveal the situation of elderly gamers in Poland, but also help us understand relations between individuals, social institutions and structures. This might be even more important considering the mentioned process of aging. BIBLIOGRAPHY Bachórz Agata, Ciechorska-Kulesza Karolina, Grabowska Martyna, Knera Jakub, Michałowski Lesław, Stachura Krzysztof, Szultka Stanisław, Obracht-Prondzyński Cezary, Piotr Zbieranek. 2016. Kulturalna Hierarchia : Nowe Dystynkcje I Powinności W Kulturze a Stratyfikacja Społeczna. Gdansk: Instytut Kultury Miejskiej. Online: http://nck.pl/upload/attachments/317809/kulturalna%20hierarchia.pdf [18.01.2018]. Barnes Stephen F. 2011. Third Age–The Golden Years of Adulthood. San Diego State University Interwork Institute. Online: http://calbooming.sdsu.edu/documents/TheThirdAge.pdf [18.01.2018]. Cookman Ben, Eduardo Mena. 2016. The New Faces of Gaming. Online: https://www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/2017-02/Gaming_Feb_17.pdf [18.01.2018]. Czapiński Janusz, Błędowski Piotr. 2014. Aktywność społeczna osób starszych w kontekście percepcji Polaków. In: Diagnoza społeczna 2013. Online: [18.01.2018]. Gilleard Chris, Higgs Paul. 2008. The third age and the baby boomers: Two approaches to the social structuring of later life. “International journal of ageing and later life”, 2(2): 13-30. Granic Isabela, Lobel Adam, Rutger Engels. 2013. The benefits of playing video games. “American Psychologist”. Online: http://theplayniceinstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Granic-et-al.-in-press_AP.pdf [18.01.2018]. ISFE. 2012. Videogames in Europe: 2012 Consumer Study. Online: http://www.isfe.eu/sites/isfe.eu/files/attachments/euro_summary_-_isfe_consumer_study.pdf [18.01.2018]. Lenhart Amanda, Jones Sydney, Alexandra Macgill. 2008. Adults and Video Games. Online: http://www.pewinternet.org/2008/12/07/adults-and-video-games/ [18.01.2018]. Nap Henk Herman, de Kort Yvonne A.W., Wijnand A. IJsselsteijn. 2009. Senior gamers: Preferences, motivations and needs. “Gerontechnology”, 8(4): 247-262. Olszewski Paweł. 2016. Pani Bogumiła jest już na emeryturze, miała więc czas na wbicie 12 platyn na PlayStation. Polygamia.pl. Online: http://polygamia.pl/pani-bogumila-jest-juz-na-emeryturze-miala-wiec-czas-na-wbicie-12-platyn-na-playstation/ [18.01.2018]. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. 2015. World Population Ageing 2015 (ST/ESA/SER.A/390), Online: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/pdf/ageing/WPA2015_Report.pdf [18.01.2018]. Varis Piia. 2016. Digital ethnography. In: Alexandra Georgakopoulou, Tereza Spilioti. The Routledge handbook of language and digital communication, p. 55-68.

Video Games in the Convenience Store

ABSTRACT. This paper analyzes the play spaces constituted by the coin-operated video game cabinets found in corner shops, bodegas, and convenience stores.

16:20-17:40 Session 18F: Meaning-making
Location: D4 (76 posti)
‘We’re Not Gonna Take It.’ The Countercultural AAA Aesthetics of Wolfenstein: The New Colossus

ABSTRACT. The presentation will primarily demonstrate how many overlooked layers of meaning are present in the careful construction of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and how this contradictory complexity – from the subtitle’s hidden allusion to the title or Emma Lazarus’ sonnet engraved into the foundations of the statue of liberty, the source of the oft-quoted “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses” to the end credit’s soundtrack of a cover version of Twisted Sister’s “We’re not gonna take it” – works together as a game specific, carnivalesque meaning-making.

On Striated Wilderness and Prospect Pacing: Rural Open World Games as Liminal Spaces of the Man-Nature Dichotomy

ABSTRACT. From colonization to (post)industrial era, recreation guised as preservation of wilderness is an artificial concept and ongoing topic in arts and media. This paper defines the distinct staging of untamed and pristine environment in open world games as striated wilderness which is constituted by aesthetics and gazing regimes of Western culture as well as by modularity and variability of computer games as data bases. Merging the wilderness discourse with concepts of tourist gaze and prospect-refuge theory, rural open world games can be analyzed as rhythmized liminal spaces of the man-nature dichotomy. Thus, they stand in the tradition of landscape gardens and nature parks where former survival instincts and urges for exploration are experienced for recreation and entertainment. Striated wilderness has to be differentiated between place (wilderness) and practice (wildness). How do open world games regulate our understanding of landscape and longing for nature?

Meaning Through Performance: Transgressing Boundaries in Shadow of the Colossus

ABSTRACT. In this paper I study how the videogame Shadow of the Colossus takes part on the Conversation of life, death and afterlife in Japanese culture. This theme, that I label as Essential Boundary Transgression (EBT) has been approached and debated in Japan since its early times. Now, thanks to the videoludic medium the Conversation is approached differently as the reader is allowed but also forced to make the decision himself by choosing to play or not to play; that is, to transgress or disengage with the game.

The Aesthetics of Ambient Data: Playful Data-Sharing in the Dark Souls series
SPEAKER: Tom Apperley

ABSTRACT. This article considers the playful sharing of data between players within digital games as a design strategy used to embed a sense of ambient co-presence for players. We argue that this structured ludic experience indicates the emergence of an everyday ‘data aesthetic,’ which is an affective architecture of co-presence. Previous work on the aestheticization of data has primarily focused on artistic responses to the proliferation of data, and on visualization techniques that make data more accessible and comprehensible. Whether from the point of the creative producer (the ‘artistic’ responses) or from the point of intended receivers (the design of ‘data visualization’), the understanding of aesthetics in the digital regime remains substantially traditional. This article considers the more generalized data architectures of contemporary everyday life.