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10:40-12:00 Session 1A

Making sense of play and players

Ilaria Mariani (Politecnico di Milano, Italy)
Eleonora Imbierowicz (University of Wrocław, Poland)
Perma-dying worlds and other mechanics of limiting the access to digital games

ABSTRACT. This presentation analyzes the mechanics of limiting the access to the game in games such as One Hour One Life, This War of Mine, Pandemic Legacy: Season 2, Doki Doki Literature Club, and One Chance. All these games to some extent deny the player the possibility of mastering them through repetition; some limit the possibility to return only partially, and some try to stop the player from playing ever again. During the talk, I am going to show what exactly these mechanics give to the players, why they are appreciated, and differentiate between mechanics that have a likely future in expensive productions, and tools that will probably be used only in free games.

Gemma Potter (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)
Tom Brock (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)
Failure in Videogames: Similarities and Differences to Textile Craft
PRESENTER: Gemma Potter

ABSTRACT. This paper applies Juul’s (2013) account of failure in videogames to an analysis of hand knitting to argue that there are similarities and differences between videogame play and textile craft practice. Specifically, we will consider failure through a case study of the game Unravel (Coldwood Interactive 2016) and Unravel Two (Coldwood Interactive 2018) and apply it to hand knitting through autoethnographic observations of game play and amateur knitting practice. We will argue that knitting taps into key ‘autotelic’ needs to succeed and feel competent whilst overcoming anxieties of inadequacy an it is this paradox is what makes knitting similar to Unravel (and vice versa).

Paul Atkinson (Monash University, Australia)
Farzad Parsayi (Monash University, Australia)
Living in the Present: Rethinking the Paradox of Suspense through Videogames
PRESENTER: Paul Atkinson

ABSTRACT. In the study of film the “paradox of suspense” refers to a situation in which rewatching a film still invokes suspenseful feelings. According to the paradox, the tension between what the viewer wants to happen and what the plot suggests will happen should disappear in rewatching a film, because the viewer definitely knows what will happen. Much of the debate on the paradox focuses on reconsidering how the viewer relates to future events and under what conditions the feeling of suspense is maintained. This paper takes a different approach by addressing a range of factors that can contribute to the feeling of suspense outside of the awareness of specific narrative events. By examining videogames, we also shift the frame of reference from narration to gameplay and the way that the player prepares for suspenseful events.

10:40-12:00 Session 1B

Games business

Olli Sotamaa (University of Tampere, Finland)
Anna Ozimek (Tallinn University, Estonia)
Breaking into the Polish Videogame Industry: Education, Informality and Inequality

ABSTRACT. This contribution explores Polish videogame workers’ strategies to start their careers in the videogame industry. This study is positioned within critical media industry studies (Havens et al. 2009) and underpinned by critical cultural studies theory to media production. Drawing on 41 semi-structured interviews and an analysis of secondary sources (e.g., industry reports) this contribution focuses on workers’ reflections on development of their careers in the industry. This presentation is divided into two sections which explore the role of education and informal networks in securing employment in the Polish videogame industry. This study demonstrates that the requirement of maintaining informal relationships, based on a system of recommendations and increased sociality, exclude workers who cannot afford to participate in them or who are purposefully excluded.

Henrik Engstrom (University of Skövde, Sweden)
GDC vs. DiGRA: Gaps in Game Production Research

ABSTRACT. Previous research has revealed a gap between game research and industry game production. This paper presents an analysis of this research gap using the tracks and summits at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) as a point of reference. The result shows that there are several areas where there exists very little research. The DiGRA conference is no exception – since 2006, only a handful of papers present empirics from game production. Studies are in particular rare for content producing areas, such as audio, visual arts, and narrative. There are plenty of opportunities for researchers to extract experiences and knowledge from game professionals and to identify problems to be addressed. To do this, collaboration models need to be established that endure non-disclosure agreements and crunch cultures.

Brendan Keogh (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)
Who is a videogame developer? The politics of videogame maker identities

ABSTRACT. Inspired by the methods and insights of Adrienne Shaw’s 2012 survey of videogame players’ relationship to the identity of ‘gamer’, this paper draws from semi-structured interviews conducted with a range of videogame makers in Australia, Canada, and The Netherlands in order to consider just which videogame makers self-identify as videogame developers, and which do not. Some participants considered themselves developers, but not part of a videogame industry; others considered themselves part of an industry, but not developers. Participants working in formal game studios articulated that a number of roles exist that make a significant contribution to a studio’s output while not being directly involved in manipulating code or assets within a game engine, thus complicating just what ‘development’ means. The broadness with which such terms are used by scholars, journalists, governments, and makers themselves requires a critical reassessment.

Sebastián Baeza (The University of Manchester, UK)
Video Games Production Networks in the periphery: the Chilean case

ABSTRACT. Inspired by more recent interpretations of dependency theory (Arsenault and Castells 2008; Castells and Laserna 1989), cognitive capitalism (Hardt and Negri 2000, 2009; Vercellone 2007; Virno 2007) and the Global Production Networks (GPN) literature (Henderson et al. 2002), I propose to investigate two primary forms of techno-dependencies in the Chilean context. First, Chilean game developers are challenged by the use of tools (SDKs and Engines) provided by game publishers and transnational firms, usually from the Global North. Second, Intellectual Property (IP) flows and rights evidence continued disparities in value capture between firms in the so-called north and those in the south (Chile in this case), an issue only partially addressed by Chilean companies and authorities, but frequently suggested as relevant by the existing literature (Dyer-Witheford and De Peuter 2009; Dyer-Witheford and Sharman 2005; O’Donnell 2014, 2015).

10:40-12:00 Session 1C

Doing games research

Yijin He (Department of Sociology, Beijing University of Technology, China)
Di Zhu (Institute of Sociology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China)
Feng Tian (Institute of Sociology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China)
Paul Martin (Digital Media and Communications at University of Nottingham Ningbo China, China)
Wenjun Gao (Institute of Sociology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China)
Hanna Wirman (School of Design of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong)
Ruofan Li (Department of Interactive entertainment creativity, Tencent., China)
Gaming in the Chinese Context

ABSTRACT. Even though online games and esports have become a booming business in China over the past 20 years, the Chinese academic discourse in this area is relatively sparse, with limited research on Chinese games and gamers. We are concerned with avoiding an essentialist understanding of games through a universal standard or value, preferring to attend properly to local contexts in tension with the social, political and cultural forces in which games and gamers are embedded. Instead of understanding or imagining Chinese games and gamers merely in terms of commercial or marketing language, we hope this panel could offer DiGRA attendees an opportunity to take a closer look at how games are played and how policies are enacted in the Chinese context.

10:40-12:00 Session 1D

Serious games

Masakazu Furuichi (Nihon University, Japan)
Charlotte Lærke Weitze (Digital & Creative Learning Lab, Denmark)
Learning Through Game Design - Is This Deep Learning?

ABSTRACT. This study investigated how the creation of games for learning with specific learning goals could contribute to the development of students lower- and higher-order thinking skills. The results confirmed the hypothesis that the depth and complexity of the students’ learning and game design processes when developing games for learning influenced how deep learning processes the student-game designers experienced as they implemented academic knowledge and learning opportunities into their boardgames.

Morris Jong (The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
Gaowei Chen (The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
Vincent Tam (The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
Gamifying Flipped Learning for Promoting Students’ Online Participation

ABSTRACT. Flipped Learning (FL) is a technology-enhanced instructional strategy that has received a lot of attention from educators in recent years. This strategy moves the learning and teaching activities that conventionally take place “outside the classroom” to “inside the classroom,” and vice-versa. In FL, students conduct online, lower-order learning tasks at home, so that the in-class time can be used for engaging students in face-to-face, higher-order learning tasks with quality teacher-student and student-student interactions. We have developed a pedagogic framework, namely Flipped Issue-Based Enquiry Ride (FIBER), to integrate FL into social enquiry learning. The present proposal is to further gamify the online components of FIBER so as to promote students’ outside-the-classroom participation.

Toru Fujimoto (The University of Tokyo, Japan)
Ryohei Ikejiri (The University of Tokyo, Japan)
Yuki Fukuyama (Meisei University, Japan)
Bridging Meaningful Play and Playful Learning - Supporting the Design Process of Gamification in Education

ABSTRACT. The purpose of this present research is to investigate the issues in implementation of game-based learning and gamification in education, and to design a tool for educators and game developers in the field to support design process of learning games and gamified activities in education.

Sandeep Athavale (TCS TRDDC, India)
Girish Dalvi (IIT Bombay, India)
Strategies for Endogenous Design of Educational Games
PRESENTER: Sandeep Athavale

ABSTRACT. Educational game designers strive to fulfill the promise of making learning fun. Games with endogenous design can fulfill this promise. In endogenous design, the gameplay emerges from the content, thus seamlessly integrating the act of playing with learning. However, a review of literature informs us of the lack of guidance on the endogenous design of educational games. There is a need to develop a framework which can aid designers achieve endogenous design.

In this paper, we propose strategies for the endogenous design of educational games. We conduct in-situ studies using think-aloud protocol analysis to extract the tacit knowledge that designers discreetly use in practice. We synthesize the extracted knowledge into concise design strategies. The identification of these design strategies is a significant step towards building a framework for endogenous design of educational games.

13:00-14:30 Session KEYNOTE: Conference opening and Keynote 1

Eiji Ōtsuka

Professor, International Research Center for Japanese Studies

"The Origin of the Media-Mix" (with simultaneous interpretation)

15:00-16:20 Session 2A

Philosophy and critique

Jussi Holopainen (University of Lincoln, UK, Germany)
Dom Ford (IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
Beyond the Wall: The Boundaries of the Neomedieval Town in Single Player Roleplaying Games

ABSTRACT. The cities of the ever prevalent neomedieval fantasy roleplaying game are integral to their gameworlds. They act as quest hubs, goals, centres for action and places of safety. Much of the loop of the game revolves around leaving the city to complete quests, then returning to the city again, and repeat. In this paper, I take a closer look at the boundaries of the city. I begin by proposing a model to help define what a city’s boundary is and how it is expressed to the player. Then, I look at how and why players cross those borders back and forth. Through this, I hope to facilitate a better understanding of how the city functions in roleplaying games, and how the ways in which it produces boundaries alters and affects how players interact with the gameworld.

Kaelan Doyle-Myerscough (City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
The Path That Lies Ahead: Intimacy Through Overwhelmedness in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

ABSTRACT. In this essay I read The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to consider the potential of video game worlds to create intimate affects. I trace out a framework of intimacy not as a relationship between individuals but as an affect defined by sensations including vulnerability, the loss of control, and precarity. Then, I read the formal, aesthetic, proprioceptive and structural elements of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for intimate affects. I understand the intimacy of Breath of the Wild as not anchored to any individual but distributed through the game world. Within this framework I argue that Breath of the Wild creates intimacy through being overwhelmed and contending with overwhelmedness. Finally, I consider the context of contemporary precarity to understand the stakes of inhabiting intimate game worlds.

Daniel Vella (University of Malta, Malta)
Dwelling in Digital Game Worlds

ABSTRACT. This presentation shall draw on Edward S. Casey's philosophical argument for two modes of human dwelling: the hestial (centralizing, settled, inward-gathering) and the hermetic (outward-moving, progressive). It shall argue that existing approaches to game space (Aarseth; Nitsche; Calleja; Gazzard; Wolf) have assumed an almost exclusively hermetic understanding of the player's engagement with game spaces. Looking at Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Minecraft as primary case studies, this presentation will examine in-game spatial practices of building, lingering, centralizing, staying and returning to demonstrate a dimension of spatial practice that has, so far, remained undertheorized.

15:00-16:20 Session 2B

Making sense of play and players

Toru Fujimoto (The University of Tokyo, Japan)
Nick Webber (Birmingham City University, UK)
Monetising memory? MMOGs, anniversaries, and ownership of the past

ABSTRACT. This is an extended abstract for a paper which explores the relationship between online game communities and game providers in relation to memory and game experiences, as enacted during moments of remembrance: here, anniversaries. It develops the discussions around ownership and player cultural and creative activity that can be found in Taylor 2006, amongst others, and explores the implications of these struggles taking place in the space of memory. As such, it makes a contribution to ongoing discussions in Game Studies around player culture in Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs), offering researchers further insight into issues which have been of enduring interest for the discipline.

Patrick Deslauriers (Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada)
Élodie Simard (Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada)
Defining Gaming Communities: A Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Case Study

ABSTRACT. The question of what defines gaming communities has been, for a long time, taken for granted, as if there was general knowledge about what constitutes or not a community. Complex dynamics are established within these communities, for example, with a continuous back and forth between the “in-game” and “out-of-game”. Indeed, as certain behaviours progressively become dominant in- game, thus forming the “meta”, discussions also take place out-of-game (forums, Twitch, etc.) where social norms or “best ways” of playing are legitimized. In any case, the interrelation between both spaces (in and out-of-game) is important to study since they feed off each other and are therefore central to community building. With this presentation, we will show results of a research project underway focusing on the competitive Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Bandai Namco Studios 2018) (SSBU) community. Thus, we will define gaming communities by analyzing the competitive SSBU community.

Zhe Wang (National Chengchi University, Taiwan, China)
“For the Horde”: Players’ Collaborative Actions in Massively Multiplayer Online Games

ABSTRACT. The game mechanics of MMOGs are inclined to afford team collaboration and social interaction, which implies that online games are more than attractive visual effects. This article explores how do players collaborate in MMOGs, and possible social meanings they obtained in game communities. 10 participants were recruited in our interview, and their interpretations of game experiences suggest that players trust each other on the basis of telling reputation of others by symbols, discourses and behaviors in game world. Besides, they could achieve collaborative action due to the mutual benefits by sharing sources, skills and information. Indeed, players continuously devote all of the times and efforts to support social interaction, hoping their game community will be persistent but not intending to raise the meaning of it. The magic circle of game world cannot be sealed completely, while collaborative experience gained in game playing could be appropriated under certain conditions.

Jack Denham (York St John University, UK)
Steven Hirschler (York St John University, UK)
Matthew Spokes (York St John University, UK)
Consumptive Play: The Reification of Capitalism in Grand Theft Auto Online
PRESENTER: Jack Denham

ABSTRACT. This paper addresses the introduction of microtransactions into Grand Theft Auto Online (Henceforth: GTA Online), and considers them as part of the lineage of the GTA franchise which has always played with a satirical take on consumptive practice and capitalism in general. This paper explores the ways in which these microtransactions are doubly interesting in the case of GTA in that they simultaneously further the consumptive themes long since embedded in the game whilst departing from the critical-satirical tone that has contributed to the game’s popularisation. We argue that the game’s sense of gritty urban realism used to be achieved through this unending commitment to consumptive themes, often achieved through satire – and as this consumption is reified, taking on a new function in place of what used to be called ‘cheat codes’, its function duly flips.

15:00-16:20 Session 2C

Philosophy and critique

Jeffrey C. F. Ho (The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong)
Nathan Altice (UC Santa Cruz, United States)
Joy Family: Japanese Board Games in the Post-War Shōwa Period

ABSTRACT. This paper draws on new archival and historical sources to survey the major developments in Japanese board games in the postwar Shōwa era (1945–89), including the import of American games, the emergence of Japan’s wargame culture, and the structural foundations of the ancient Japanese game of sugoroku. In particular, this paper identifies key cultural, economic, and design moments that led to Bandai’s unprecedented analog game output in the 1980s.

Samuel Pizelo (University of California, Davis, United States)
Meta/Style: Strategic Histories in Korean Esports

ABSTRACT. The move in recent videogame studies scholarship to incorporate broader histories and ecologies of play has been accompanied by an increased focus on activism, resistance, and politics (Boluk and Lemieux, 2017; Mitchell 2018). The present paper seeks to expand on play scholarship by thematizing strategy as a mode of play that is overtly situational, historical, and political. This paper locates specific strategic concepts emerging from Korean Go play during the postcolonial period in the later “Korean Meta” of Starcraft and League of Legends. Through an examination of recorded interviews of esports coaches, players, analysts and commentators, as well as analysis of specific gameplay moments in Korean esports competitions, I hope to suggest specific strategic continuities across these games and through history. The recognition of strategy as a culturally- and historically-specific mode of play provides a unique way of engaging in discussions of politics in the present moment.

Philip Lin (Providence University, Taiwan)
Games as a Recall for Popular Memory in Taiwan: Revealing the Procedural Rhetorics in Pan-Political Indie games of Raid on Taihoku and Detention

ABSTRACT. This paper aims at establishing a historical understanding on the emerging pan-political game genre in Taiwan. It then sets the argument that, due to economic and political pressures, games in Taiwan are there to exercise as a new form of media to carry out a special political function of recalling for a popular memory that challenges the ideological frames from old time.

Tero Pasanen (University of Turku, Finland)
Jaakko Suominen (University of Turku, Finland)
Examining the Gaming Subcultures through the Lens of Finnish Game Journalism: From the 1980s to the 2010s

ABSTRACT. The present paper continues the contemporary trend of local game historiography. It outlines a macro-level overview on the sociocultural evolution of gaming subcultures through the lens of Finnish game journalism. The paper approaches its subject by focusing on the gamut of subcultures within Finnish gaming culture. These subcultures have formed around, for instance, general computer hobbyism, preferred computers/gaming platforms, programming, software piracy, specific game genres and/or particular games. The paper is divided into five sections, according to the developmental phases of Finnish game journalism. These journalistic waves are concurrent with the development of game technology and behavioural changes of gamers as consumers. They also highlight the appearance and prominence of various subcultural practices in a given time period.

15:00-16:20 Session 2D

Games business

Yuhsuke Koyama (Shibaura Institute of Technology, Japan)
Akinori Nakamura (Ritsumeikan University, Japan)
Susana Tosca (Roskilde University, Denmark)
The Mobile Suit Gundam Franchise: a Case Study of Transmedia Storytelling Practices and the Role of Digital Games in Japan
PRESENTER: Akinori Nakamura

ABSTRACT. The present study looks at the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise from the conceptual frameworks of transmedia storytelling and the Japanese media mix. We offer a historical account of the development of “the Mobile Suit Gundam” series from a producer´s perspective and show how a combination of convergent and divergent strategies contributed to the success of the series, with a special focus on games. Our case provides us with some insights into underdeveloped aspects of the theory of transmedial storytelling and the Japanese media mix.

Nökkvi Jarl Bjarnason (University of Iceland, Iceland)
A Recipe for Disaster? The Emerging Ludo Mix and the Outsourcing of Narrative

ABSTRACT. Employing The Final Fantasy XV Universe as a case study, this article examines how the changing climate of game development, in tandem with established media mix strategies, contributes to the emergence of the ludo mix as media ecology. Through a comparative analysis of the climate of modern game development and the adoption of media mix strategies, as they relate to the franchise in question, the case is made that these two distinct phenomena intersect to create novel challenges and incentives for a particular kind of game development. This has resulted in the strategic outsourcing of Final Fantasy XV’s core-narrative, to outside the ludic sphere, and negatively affected the games critical reception. These findings posit challenges for the future of the ludo mix as the evolving technological, aesthetic and economic climate of game development continues further down the same path that has led to this outcome.

Tanja Sihvonen (University of Vaasa, Finland)
Alesja Serada (European Humanities University, Vilnius, Lithuania)
J. Tuomas Harviainen (Tampere University, Finland)
CryptoKitties and the New Ludic Economy: How blockchain introduces value, ownership, and scarcity in the digital world

ABSTRACT. In this paper, we demonstrate how value is created through digital scarcity and blockchain-proven ownership in cryptogames. Our object of study is CryptoKitties, the first example of a digital collectibles game that has gained mass recognition. The objective of our paper is to discuss the role of scarcity in value construction for owners of CryptoKitties tokens, manifested as breedable virtual cats. For the purpose of this paper, we rely on open blockchain analytics such as DappRadar and Etherscan, as well as Kitty.Heaven and player-created analytics. We compare this information with developers’ documents, journalistic accounts, and official publications. This multilevel analysis enables a grounded discussion on the opportunities and business potential of blockchain-based game design. On the basis of our theoretical paper, the next stage of work would be field studies in the virtual community of the game to reliably estimate scarcity and value from the viewpoint of token owners.

Laureline Chiapello (NAD- UQAC (Université du Québec à Chicoutimi), Canada)
Ludo Mix as an Aesthetic Experience: Designing Games for Franchises

ABSTRACT. How can we design games in a ludo mix? Inspired by the ‘media mix’ or media franchise (Steinberg 2015), ludo mix can be seen as a convergence of products organized around one (or several) central games. While this convergence might be an opportunity to build worlds and create new intellectual property, it is also a marketing strategy. These two perspectives are often contradictory, and difficult for game designers to address. This research project suggests that the player’s experience and that of the consumer can be encompassed by the pragmatist definition of ‘aesthetic experience’ and designed in a cohesive manner.

16:30-17:50 Session 3A

Philosophy and critique

Philip Lin (Providence University, Taiwan)
Benjamin James Marshall Horn (City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
Trapped in the Ludo Mix: Kingdom Hearts and the Failed Bildungsroman

ABSTRACT. This paper is a critical analysis of the video game series Kingdom Hearts (Nomura). It will argue that although the series begins as a thoughtful bildungsroman, the repetition of key ontological elements entails different readings as the saga unfolds. In particular, it will contend that the mirroring of the worlds of the series, the relationships between the three main protagonists of each game, and the failed climaxes they experience, provokes a reading where the tale of growing up from the first game becomes a reflection of modern society’s repetitive modes of production and reproduction.

Johnathan Harrington (City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
Play // Make: Media Mix Games as Controlled Open Reading

ABSTRACT. In this paper, I argue that games occupy a difficult position within media mixes. Apart from being part of cross-media content, having their textual output weighed and measured within a larger textual ecosphere, game-specific constraints tax players heavily. Not only are players made to learn constraints which are unique to games, they are also invited to become constraints within the text themselves.

Anh-Thu Nguyen (University of Cologne, Germany)
The theme park experience: Kingdom Hearts and the franchise

ABSTRACT. This extended abstract offers a methodology rooted in narrative theory in order to unravel different layers of a video game franchise, especially concerning franchise-building and transmedia storytelling. The game franchise in question is the transnational collaboration Kingdom Hearts, which heavily relies on the worlds and characters of Disney in order to create its narrative backdrop. Through an analysis of the protagonist Sora, the on-going research is concerned with how these worlds are meant to be experienced. Through the tourist gaze and evocative spaces, Kingdom Hearts seems to elicit an ideal theme park experience.

Joleen Blom (IT, Denmark)
A Ludo Mix Perspective on Dynamic Game Characters

ABSTRACT. This paper examines the tension created by dynamic game characters in media- and ludo mixes as a result of games conveying an illusion of creative agency over the identity of the character to the player, while the dominant identity of the characters is (for commercial reasons) presented in the media mix’ other, non-ludic media platforms. This paper will engage with the question: how do dynamic game characters create tension in media- and ludo mixes?

16:30-17:50 Session 3B

Making sense of play and players

Paul Martin (University of Nottingham, China)
Troy Innocent (Swinburne University of Technology, Australia)
Playable Cities Now

ABSTRACT. As the popularity of smart cities has risen over the past decade, alternatives and counterpoints have emerged to challenge its focus on function and utility at the expense of human needs and experiences. The idea of playable cities emerged in opposition to early technology-driven approaches to smart city design with a focus on people and place by literally making urban space and infrastructure ‘playable’.

This paper presents findings from a one-year study investigating the relationship between playable and smart cities, drawing upon interviews with over thirty artists, designers, producers, architects working with urban environments to develop and present projects. While all of the participants in the study engaged with the concept of play in some way, their strategies for working with data and code are widely divergent. A key finding of this research is a shift in the relationship between smart and playable cities.

Hugh Davies (RMIT University, Australia)
Troy Innocent (RMIT University, Australia)
Olivia Guntarik (RMIT University, Australia)
Playful Explorations of Indigenous Cartography
PRESENTER: Hugh Davies

ABSTRACT. With the rise of pervasive games in the last two decades, peaking with 2016’s Pokémon Go, questions surrounding the perceptions, use and ownership of public space have rapidly emerged. Beyond commercial and public uses of city spaces, how are such experiences attentive to local, regional, ancient and persistent notions of place? How can, and are, local and Indigenous understandings of place incorporated into locative and pervasive experiences? Perhaps most decisively, what is the compatibility of ancient and Indigenous stories of sustainability set within rapidly obsolete frameworks of the latest mobile devices? In considering these questions, this paper discusses an augmented reality audio-game that features Australian First Nation stories of land, river and sky. Players of the games are transformed into wayfarers as they move across the landscape to uncover alternate and pre-settlement cartographies bringing new insights to familiar territory.

Suely Fragoso (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Brazil)
Fabiana Freitas (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Brazil)
Mariana Amaro (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Brazil)
Beyond God’s Eye: on the Reliability of Gameworld Images

ABSTRACT. This article questions the influence of visual enunciation of gameworlds on players’ spatial practices. It begins with a reminder that images are not naïve, followed by a brief review of the literature about the ideological charge of two types of images widely used in games: maps and perspective projections. Considerations about the mediating role of game images leads to the hypothesis that games highlight the inseparability of the spatial practices known as mapping and touring (de Certeau 1984; Lammes 2008, 2009, 2015). The ideas are exemplified by the combined uses of maps and perspective images in 5 games. Results indicate that maps and central perspective reify Modern values and beliefs. They are more likely to challenge the stratification of spatial practices when encountered in combination or in intermediate forms such as oblique projections. Their potential is intensified by synchronicity and by releasing control of the point of view.

Carlos Ramírez-Moreno (University of Seville, Spain)
Promoting Yokosuka via Video Game Tourism: The case of the Shenmue Sacred Spot Guide Map

ABSTRACT. There has been an increasing number of tourists visiting destinations featured through films and television series which are not directly related to tourism promotion campaigns. This phenomenon is called film-induced tourism. However, the possibility of a video game-induced tourism has hardly been taken into account. This extended abstract aims to analyze the case of Shenmue and Yokosuka as an unusual example of video game-induced tourism. In 2017, the “Yokosuka Action Committee for the Promotion” released the Shenmue Sacred Spot Guide Map, a leaflet designed to attract Shenmue fans and guide them in their search for the most famous locations recreated in the game. This example of video game-induced tourism seems of great interest, considering how unusual it is that a destination reacts to this phenomenon by launching a tourist campaign that profits from the fictional universe to promote its cultural heritage.

16:30-17:50 Session 3C

Games business

Mark R Johnson (University of Alberta, Canada)
Jessie Marchessault (Concordia University, Canada)
Bart Simon (Concordia University, Canada)
Indie Game Studios and the Attention Economy: On route to actually participatory media?

ABSTRACT. In a creative economy dominated by the condition of precarity, artists and cultural producers are finding that the savvy creation of unique content does not ensure long term sustainability. We tackle the 'challenge of discoverability' in the context of independent video game developers, focusing on how they capture and maintain the attention of consumers. By drawing on interviews with twelve studios working out of an independent games co-working space called GamePlay Space in Montreal, Canada, this paper explores how studios strategically involve community members throughout their development processes to mitigate concerns over how those players will discover the game in the first place. Citing Jenkins' notion of participatory culture and Banks' exploration of videogame co-creation, we determine that indie games audiences raise the potential for new kinds of relationality between traditionally conceived cultural producers and consumers in a model that is less about market attention and more about participation.

Samuel Coavoux (Orange SENSE, France)
Noémie Roques (Experice, Paris 13, France)
Diversity and conformism on Twitch. The effects of the labor market for video game live streaming on artistic convention.

ABSTRACT. In this paper, we ask how are the conventions of video game live streaming shaped by economic constraints on producers’ careers? To study this, we contrast the case of two professional groups, variety live streamers and shoutcasters, using a production of culture perspective (Peterson & Anand, 2004) and a sociology of artistic careers (Menger, 1999). We gathered data from in-depth biographical interviews with 18 French variety live streamers and shoutcasters, working either as independent or as employees of webTVs, and with documentary work on the ecosystem of the French live streaming scene.

K.T. Wong (University of California, Irvine, United States)
Automated Inequality: Behind the Apparent Neutrality of Steam’s Algorithmic Culture

ABSTRACT. This paper argues that the apparent neutrality of automated algorithmic systems that govern the operation of digital distribution platforms masks the political positions of the algorithm’s creators and the inequalities suffered by the platform users, primarily the game developers.

Ben Abraham (University of Technology, Sydney, Australia)
Brendan Keogh (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)
Challenges and Opportunities for Collective Action in Local Games Industries

ABSTRACT. In this paper we present the preliminary results of a multi-year study of the shape and nature of the Australian games industry and situate this within a discussion of labour organising principles, existing research, and emerging approaches to the challenges of organising in a highly globalized, fragmented, and contract-based economic system. We will not only detail the challenges faced by traditional unionisation efforts, but also highlight new potential sites of radical action. Our analysis points towards specific regional challenges to the organisation and formation of a game workers’ union—specifically the project of building workers industrial muscle within an industry organised around creative project-based work—both in Australia and in other regions outside of North America and Western Europe.

16:30-17:50 Session 3D

Doing games research

James Newman (Bath Spa University, UK)
Akinori Nakamura (Ritsumeikan University, Japan)
Iain Simons (BGI, UK)
Koichi Hosoi (Ritsumeikan University, Japan)
Jing Sun (Perfect World Education Game Research Center, China)
Masayuki Uemura (Ritsumeikan University, Japan)
‘Next Generation’: towards best practices in preserving, curating and exhibiting videogames
PRESENTER: James Newman

ABSTRACT. This panel focuses on exploring the challenges and opportunities faced by memory institutions and heritage organisations seeking to exhibit videogames. The panel draws together a number of key contributors to a major UK-Japanese project aimed at tackling this research by providing both rigorous scholarship and practical guidelines on the exhibition and interpretation of videogames. Next Generation’s work centres on identifying best practice in game curation, access and exhibition and seek to challenge some of the assumptions about videogame exhibition and interpretation. The project team will report on key findings so far; will outline the project roadmap, future milestones and outputs; and will offer an opportunity for participants to feed into the project. The ideal ways of preserving online game service will also be explored. The current status of online game preservation and issues surrounding the endeavors will be discussed by the team working with Perfect Education, the PRC.

18:00-19:20 Session 4A

Philosophy and critique

James Manning (RMIT University, Australia)
Tuo Yang (Fudan University, China)
“Monopoly” in Merging Digital and Urban Playspaces

ABSTRACT. Even with the same game design pattern, different technology will afford the game the different possibilities and the game players different experience due to the medium used to mediate the game. In this paper, I intend to illustrate a new variation of the game “Monopoly”, taking place in the real city space with location-based social networking application Wechat, a China’s popular social app on mobile phone, thus to discussed about this hybrid mode of human existing when two set of meaning system(one is game meaning world) are executed together, which now have been successfully supported by new technology. Furthermore, how technology shape a different urban space with a set of new rules formulated by game and how the images of the city can be encode and decode in another way changed by the new social contract of“magic circle”would also be discussed.

Alexander Bacalja (The University of Melbourne, Australia)
Negotiating Pedagogy and Play in the Games-as-text English classroom

ABSTRACT. This paper presents initial findings from a case study which introduced one digital game, Never Alone (Upper One Games, 2014) into the English classroom of an Australian secondary school for sustained play and study. The unit of work focussed on the study of indigenous stories across multiple text-types, including digital games, animations, and short stories. The research question to be addressed was How do English teachers negotiate pedagogy and play in the games-as-text classroom? Findings suggest that whilst teachers' historical orientations towards the 'doing' of subject-English led them to utilise pedagogies more typically orientated towards print-based texts, subsequently impacting on how aspects of game play were enacted in the classroom, positive responses from students led to shifting mindsets in terms of the legitimacy of games-as-text as well as a reconsideration of the unique textual features of games.

Ruud Jacobs (University of Twente, Netherlands)
Zino Duyvestijn (Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands)
Discourse at play: construction and professionalism of video-based game reviews

ABSTRACT. As a growing but already massive entertainment medium, games are discussed in all social environments, uncovering an unexplored area of cultural criticism. YouTube in particular acts as a vast library of game reviews that are posted by both consumer and professional reviewers. The current study investigates how these reviews construct a discourse of games. A quantitative content analysis on 150 randomly sampled video-format reviews applied discourse categorizations found among film reviewers complemented with a coding frame specifically designed for the gaming YouTube format. Results show that high-art discursive styles typically found with professional critics of traditional media now apply to a continuum of YouTube creators, while the consumer-oriented popular aesthetic discourse is not mirrored as closely. Reviewers can set themselves apart by offering interpretations of the games they play, for example, or reviewing from a first-person perspective. Conclusions includes avenues for further research on specific game reviewing discourse.

18:00-19:20 Session 4B

Making sense of play and players

Toru Fujimoto (The University of Tokyo, Japan)
Tomasz Majkowski (Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland)
By Svarog! Slavic Game Renaissance and the Ideology of the Extreme Right

ABSTRACT. The global normalization of political extremism influences the gaming culture in various ways, from the rise of militant conservatives harassing women since the #GamerGate event, to heated debates on racial representations in neo-medievalist and colonial fantasies, to government-sanctioned plans to promote national cultures through video games. In Poland, all those tendencies are easy to observe, but there is yet another facet of the contemporary Polish gaming culture, associated with the right-wing movement: the influx of Slavdom games. In this talk I will analyze that seemingly innocent phenomenon with regard to the most bizarre political movement in contemporary Poland – the Great Lechinia Empire conspiracy theory. Using the already established ways to relate games and national topoi and the concept of invented tradition, I will present the way extremism can inform gaming culture and contribute to the normalization of fabricated and dangerous concepts as a part of national heritage.

Annie Harrisson (Concordia University, Canada)
Playing Polybius: Navigating Marginalizing Discourses on Youth and Gaming Through Myth Transgression

ABSTRACT. In this paper, I propose to look at how urban legends around videogames serve a mythological function, being both celebrated and transgressed by communities of gamers. Through the case of the fictional arcade game Polybius, I will show how members of the gaming community think through the stigmatization of youth past and present to propose a new image for gamers based on rationality and empowerment.

Joan Casas-Roma (The Metamakers Institute, Falmouth University, UK)
Joan Arnedo-Moreno (Estudis d'Informàtica Multimèdia i Telecomunicació, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain)
Categorizing Morality Systems Through the Lens of Fallout

ABSTRACT. Morality systems in computer role-playing games (CRPGs) are a characteristic feature of the genre. Although there is plenty of literature studying how players relate to moral choices, only a few studies analyze or compare how specific games represent the player's moral persona. This paper studies how morality systems have been modeled in the Fallout series to keep track of the player's moral profile, categorizing the different techniques used in those systems. A special emphasis is put on how in-game actions affect the PC's moral alignment, as well as how non-player characters (NPCs) react to that beyond the game's scripted narrative. The goal is to provide guidelines that would lead to the development of more comprehensive and detailed morality systems, and where the player could immerse in a virtual world where the NPCs would act more as individual agents, with less reliance on explicitly scripted scenarios.

18:00-19:20 Session 4C

Games business

Mikhail Fiadotau (Tallinn University, Estonia)
Anna Ozimek (Tallinn University, Estonia)
Camille Laurelli (Lvlup! Videogame Museum, Estonia)
Jaroslav Švelch (Charles University, Czechia)
Andrejs Rusinovskis (Lvlup! Videogame Museum, Estonia)
Tracing the Histories of Videogame Piracy in Eastern Europe in the 1980s-1990s

ABSTRACT. Discourse around videogame piracy has largely been shaped by two opposing narratives. One the one hand, there is the copyright-centric, normative understanding of piracy as being foremost an infringement upon intellectual property. On the other hand, there is the romanticized view of piracy as a liberating force capable of circumventing censorship, challenging capitalist values, and even being a driver of innovation.

This panel seeks to problematize these conventional understandings by tracing the historical trajectories of game piracy in 1980s-1990s’ Eastern Europe: a region whose political, economic, and social circumstances resulted in various forms of videogame distribution and appropriation. In so doing, the panel aims to promote a more nuanced, contextual understanding of piracy-related practices and their effects on videogame production and consumption.

18:00-19:20 Session 4D

Games spectatorship

Mark R Johnson (University of Alberta, Canada)
Tom Brock (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)
Miia Siutila (University of Finland, Finland)
Will Partin (The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States)
David Cumming (The University of Melbourne, Australia)
Skill, Streaming and Sociality in Contemporary Esports

ABSTRACT. This panel addresses itself to a number of contemporary conceptual perspectives and empirical findings on esports, particularly focused on questions of skill, live streaming, and sociality. In such a rapidly changing area, new research and new theoretical developments are consistently needed to address the evolving challenges of studying and understanding such a complex space. The papers in this panel look at the roles of esports commentators; how skill is being quantified and metricised by esports games and developers; the vital role of live streaming to the esports ecosystem; the “sportiness” of esports; and how esports communities are being fostered offline as well as online. This panel should therefore offer a range of new insights and ways of looking at the competitive gaming phenomenon, and bring together a significant number of both established and emerging scholars in this area working at the leading edges of esports study.

18:00-19:20 Session 4E

Serious games

Yong Ming Kow (City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
Hernâni Zão Oliveira (University of Porto, Portugal)
Gonçalo Marques Barbosa (University of Porto, Portugal)
António Coelho (University of Porto, Portugal)
Helena Lima (University of Porto, Portugal)
The HOPE Project: from a serious game to an awareness campaign

ABSTRACT. The HOPE Project, a 2D video game, was developed to solve major issues related to treatments adherence of children between 6 and 10 years old, that are diagnosed with cancer. Within this tool, a serious game component allows building a platform that goes beyond entertainment and has the goal to teach cancer subjects. On the other hand, an exergaming technology seeks to encourage the practice of physical exercise, using the front camera of mobile devices. With this video game, which tells a story of a child with super powers based on hospitalized children’s fears, 86% of the participants increased their knowledge about cancer topics. Due to the success of this project, and knowing the difficulties of school adaptation for children after cancer treatments, an awareness raising action was conceptualized, using programmatic contents of the school curriculum and adapting it to innovative multimedia resources based on the video game storytelling.

William Dunkel (University of California; Irvine, United States)
Minerva Wu (University of California; Irvine, United States)
Constructing Haenyeo: Defamiliarzation and Sensemaking in the Game Design Process

ABSTRACT. We explore serious games and the work of designers and artists, by developing the game "Mermaids of Ieodo", which represents, in an analog card game, the traditional cultural practices of the Korean Haenyeo, diving women of Jeju Island. Game elements intend to capture themes in haenyeo practices, including meditative engagement with nature, cross-generational interaction, historical influences on the community, ecological preservation practices, and ethical attitudes towards technology. By defamiliarizing ourselves, (Bell et al. 2005) and making strange the process of creating a visual cultural artifact, we deconstruct how serious games are made. By participating in the process of creating a visual culture artifact and cataloging our design choices, we interrogate the construction of an East Asian cultural experience. Situating this traditional practice in an analog card game allows the game to engage with the both the technological and traditional imaginaries that Korean culture operate in.

Kuo-Ting Huang (Ball State University, United States)
Exergaming Cognitive Functions: A Virtual Reality-Based Training for Older Adults

ABSTRACT. This study seeks to investigate whether level of immersion would yield differential outcomes in executive functions in the context of exergaming. In a four-week exergame training, participants were asked to play an exergame (Fruit Ninja) in either the VR or non-VR condition for eight sessions within four weeks. Thirty-three participants aged over 50 (mean age = 63) finished the training. The results of repeated-measures analysis of covariance revealed a significant interaction effect of immersion × time for two of three measures of cognitive functions, with an improvement in the high-immersion condition over the course of the four-week training. Furthermore, the feeling of spatial presence mediated the relationship between immersion and cognitive improvement. This study also demonstrated the feasibility and potential for older adults to use virtual reality-based exergames as a potential tool for cognitive health.

Rafael Leonardo da Silva (University of Georgia, United States)
Designing a Digital Roleplaying Game to Foster Awareness of Hidden Disabilities

ABSTRACT. On Fighting Shadows (OFS) is a two-dimensional roleplaying game that tells the story of Marvin, a young adult that experiences hidden disabilities such as anxiety, depression, and hydrocephalus. Developed with the goal of being both informational and engaging, OFS aims to increase awareness and foster discussions not only about hidden disabilities as medical conditions, but also as phenomena that are experienced in society (Fitzgerald & Paterson 1995), where misinformation and misunderstanding about brain and mental illnesses are common. The objective of this presentation, framed as a design case, is to describe the development process, including the design dilemmas, of the prototype of OFS, as well as to discuss future directions of this project.