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10:30-11:00Coffee Break
11:00-13:00 Session 4A: Panel: The Canon is Inherently Patriarchal and Colonial, But …: A Defense of the Canon for Game Studies
PANEL: The Canon Is Inherently Patriarchal and Colonial, but...: A Defense of the Canon for Game Studies

ABSTRACT. This is a panel proposal.

In cultural and media studies, few topics are as polemic as that of the canon. The very idea of the canon is patriarchal and colonialist, ensuring that only a few modes of expression are included in education and research. However, the concept and practice of the canon is also unavoidable and extremely useful. After all, research in the humanities and social sciences needs to have common topics and case studies, and there is arguably an implicit canon in culture, a series of games that most players know, have played, and consider important for their culture. In this panel we will discuss why we need the concept of canon in game studies. Taking as a starting point Harold Bloom’s polemic, outdated, patriarchal and colonialist The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages, the panelists will present four canonical provocations for the field of game studies. This panel will discuss the following topics: • Why are canons necessary to research game studies • What are the implicit and explicit canons of game studies • What are the forgotten canons of game studies

11:00-13:00 Session 4B: Panel: Other Worlds Are Possible: Games as Speculative Research-Creation Processes
PANEL: Other Worlds Are Possible: Games as Speculative Research-Creation Processes

ABSTRACT. This panel brings together research-practitioners who use game development to engage in critical worldbuilding. Worldbuilding is the process of conceptualizing an internally-consistent setting, often (but not always) for speculative fiction. Worldbuilding involves not only imagination, but also the organizational and logistical work of making a world believable and inhabitable.

In this panel, we argue for the use of play to build worlds. Worldbuilding lends itself well to games and play – playful worldbuilding processes can encourage more experimental worlds and collaborative modes, while the rule structures of games can viscerally reveal the experience of inhabiting a world. We view games not only as commercial objects or media texts but as vehicles for testing out alternative systems, infrastructures, and relations. By taking research-creation approaches to game design informed by critical game studies and queer and decolonial theories, we create frameworks for players to build more radical worlds.

Each of the following presentations offers a different case study for using critically-informed design methods to encourage radical worldbuilding. We situate our projects at the margins of digital games – they take place within transmedia contexts informed by digital games, but also alternate reality games, tabletop RPGs, museum exhibitions, and interactive performance art. By bringing these projects into conversation, we explore the potential for research-informed game design to inspire new worldbuilding modes – and use worldbuilding to open up new venues for dialogue between game studies, research-creation, and game design.

11:00-13:00 Session 4C: Panel: Cultural Sustainability in Esports
PANEL: Cultural Sustainability in Esports

ABSTRACT. In this panel, we will explore the limits and margins of esports culture, how they appear differently for various participant groups and shape their opportunities for participation and agency in this area. We will approach our topic of cultural sustainability in esports through various thematic and local contexts, aiming to highlight the existing issues as well as potential solutions for promoting sustainable culture across this global field.

The panel consists of six presentations, exploring 1) practices for promoting cultural sustainability in Finnish esports organizations (Usva Friman, Tampere University), 2) facilitating positive changes toward cultural sustainability in esports education (Matilda Ståhl, Åbo Akademi University), 3) South Korean fans' "truck protests" and their possible effects on cultural sustainability from business and player perspectives (Solip Park, Aalto University), 4) equality and diversity activism and fan labor in the Brazilian esports scene (Beatriz Blanco, Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos), 5) women’s and gender minorities’ esports leagues and tournaments as tools for promoting inclusion in esports (Maria Ruotsalainen, University of Jyväskylä), and 6) strategies and interventions for making esports places more welcoming and sustainable (Nicholas Taylor, Åbo Akademi University).

11:00-13:00 Session 4D: Panel: Ludic Libidos: Intimate Economies in the Boudoir of Critical Game Studies
PANEL: Ludic Libidos: Intimate Economies in the Boudoir of Critical Game Studies

ABSTRACT. “Sex sells,” the cliche goes…but does it p(l)ay? This panel explores how the study of games, their players, and their social networks are dependent on frameworks from the study of sexuality and its political economy.

Critical games research necessitates our attunement to the assemblage of interaction—sexual and otherwise—that prelude play. From the affinities between livestreaming and “cam girl” cultures to game engines in pornography production and AAA video gaming’s fraught representations of sex work, the commodification of sexuality finds traction across the milieu of games. As Bo Ruberg asserts about the mediation of sex work in popular games: “[a]ddressing the labor politics of these representations is an important part of a larger feminist project, one that stands behind those who perform sex work and the value of their labor." In this spirit, we discuss how libidinal readings of ludic economies expand our cultural and technological definitions of the “sexual,” and how critical sexuality studies can put to work the cultural barriers inscribed around disciplinary (and magic) circles.

11:00-13:00 Session 4E: Panel: Mis/Dis Information and Games Studies in Climate, Health, Culture, and News
PANEL: Mis/Dis Information and Games Studies in Climate, Health, Culture, and News

ABSTRACT. Misinformation and disinformation continue to threaten the foundation on which scientific, political, and other important decisions are made globally. Commonly referred to as an issue in “fake news,” the increasing awareness of the threat of misinformation and disinformation have motivated game researchers to create playful interventions and examine the phenomena that help conflate lies and truth. Example interventions include Lamboozled! (Literat et al., 2021) Get Breaking Harmony Square (Roozenbeek and van der Linden,2020), The Cranky Uncle Game (Cook et al, 2022), Factitious (Grace and Hone, 2019) and more than 20 others released from game researchers in the past 5 years . With players in the millions, this work is often derived from media theories (Compton et al., 2021) aimed at large-scale behavior change drawing from precedent in education, persuasive play and social impact games...

In response, we propose a gathering of panelists to candidly discuss the challenges and opportunities in researching the spread of misinformation and disinformation and it’s relationship to games. The discussion will be read by game studies researchers and game designers who have previously published several peer-reviewed works on the topic and completed funded research in this space. True to the theme of this year’s conference - how does this mis/disinformation work stress the potential limits of games and game studies and how can such work expand marginal impact into large scale change?

11:00-13:00 Session 4F: Breaking Boundaries
Theorizing Digital Games: Play Theories & New Materialism

ABSTRACT. This project seeks to develop a theoretical approach to studying digital games by revisiting the classic theories of Bergson and Bachelard and integrating their theories with contemporary perspectives. I aim to explore the relationship between the materiality of digital games and players as interconnected and mutually constitutive elements. Central to this endeavor is the concept of digital games as materialized play. Rather than viewing games solely as intangible experiences, the project aims to explore the material aspects inherent in digital games. To achieve this goal, I would like to interrogate how we can study digital games through the lens of new materialism. In this way, I expect to center digital games in theoretical studies.

Lost Horizons: Constructing a Fiction of Knowledge

ABSTRACT. This extended abstract will articulate the connections between the author’s psychogeographical practice and the author’s current artistic practice using video game engines to construct virtual worlds through a reading of the author’s project “Lost Horizons” - an immersive artwork published as a public social multiplayer VRChat world. The work takes its inspiration from spectatorial affinities that the virtual reality medium shares with older immersive visual technologies and the immersive medium takes advantage of what Michel de Certeau describes to be a “lust to be a viewpoint”.

Lost Horizons has no conventional goals or quests. Instead, players are free to wander through the massive virtual world available on the social multiplayer platform VRChat - starting at the site of a mysterious plane crash in the mountaintops. In a huge maze-like bookstore with bright posters exhorting the viewer to get lost in travel literature, you find clues to a story about a group of passengers who have crash-landed in a place that is not on any maps. In another space, a misty field is littered with conspiracy theory documents and the telecommunications equipment used in the search for the lost plane. Through both a juxtaposition of different in-game content and framing, the singularity of vision is placed at question and splits into a multiplicity of perspectives.

Through a discussion on the development of this artwork, I want to share both aesthetic as well as technical strategies for world-building that artists, art researchers, and writers may find useful exploring in practice and future research.

Perceiving Across Gameworld Boundaries: Actual, Fictional, and Imaginative Perceptions

ABSTRACT. When perceiving objects within digital gameworlds, multiple layers of perception are involved that do not always accord with one another. Think, for example, of a situation where an in-game avatar is hiding behind a wall with their head pointed downwards. Their apparent field of vision covers a piece of the wall and the ground in front of them. The player controlling this avatar from a third-person perspective, however, can peek behind the wall, see the enemies that are there, and adjust to the situation accordingly. This in-game situation exemplifies a discrepancy in perceptions: the avatar, situated within the gameworld, cannot see what the player, external to this world, has perceptual access to.

In my presentation, I discuss the aesthetic relevance of such divergences between player and avatar perceptions. Drawing from a Waltonian framework (Walton 1990), I discern three kinds of perception that are involved in digital gameplay, each of which will be clarified with examples:

1) Fictional perceptions, or what the characters within the gameworld, including the avatar, are represented as perceiving. These perceptions do not actually take place, but are themselves part of the game narrative or fiction. 2) Players’ actual perceptions from their perspective as external observers of the gameworld. This includes perceptions of the avatar, on-screen pixels, glitches, haptic feedback of the controller, and extra-diegetic elements like HP-bars, background music, and subtitles. 3) Imaginative perceptions, or what players imaginatively perceive when taking on the role of participants in the gameworld, as so-called ‘virtual subjects’ (cf. Gualeni & Vella 2020). If players, for example, report “I can see the Erdtree from here” when playing Elden Ring (FromSoftware 2022), this “I” refers to the in-game proxy they identify with and this “here” to the position of this proxy within the gameworld. The reported perception is an imaginative one, made possible because players are prompted to imaginatively project into the situation of someone who sees the Erdtree (cf. Walton 1990, 216; Currie and Ravenscroft 2002, 22).

Due to discrepancies between what the avatar fictionally perceives (1) and what the player actually perceives (2), it is often hard to reconstruct what players are (supposed to be) imaginatively perceiving (3) when taking on the role of the avatar in the gameworld. Games utilize various strategies to avoid these discrepancies, often with the goal of enhancing the feeling of being immersed in the gameworld. They might, for example, give the player a first-person perspective, realistically mediate players’ perceptual capabilities (cf. Tavinor 2022), or completely remove game interface or integrate it within the fictional environment. Technological developments of game media, especially VR media, increasingly allow players to perceive gameworlds in ways that are almost indistinguishable from their perceptions of the actual world.

This presentation focuses instead on the various ways in which the three kinds of perception in digital gameplay can interestingly and even deliberately misalign. I discuss various game cases in which perceptual discrepancies arise. For each of these, I specify the experiential effects they might have for players, and the difficulties they might cause for the game’s narrative.

First, I discuss perceptual inconsistencies that could be interpreted as unintentional consequences or mere epiphenomena of (the technical limits of) game design. In this regard, I discuss the knowledge gap between player and avatar that is inherent to videogames in which the visual field of the player is different from that of their avatar, such as in third-person games. I will also talk about the fictionally inconsistent perception of especially poor representational aspects of gameworlds that occurs when specific assets (e.g. trees in forests) are repeated multiple times. Lastly, I will focus on the comic discrepancy that is caused by perceptions of glitches and bugs, which are not acknowledged (and cannot be perceived) by in-game characters and yet are likely very apparent to the player.

I will then turn my attention to deliberate cases of perceptual discrepancy in games. It can be noted that such discrepancies have previously been used as narrative devices within non-interactive works of fiction such as movies and theatre. These works of fiction already successfully used misalignments between character and appreciator perceptions to elicit suspense through dramatic irony, to create comical situations, or to cause exciting and estranging cases of metafiction. In the last part of my presentation, I detail how videogames can interestingly integrate and further develop such effects. Notable game situations that I will discuss in this regard include the use of pseudo-glitches, visibly censored content, the inclusion of characters who can perceive extra-diegetic elements such as game menus, and in-game narrators that can be heard by the player, but not by the avatar. I will here also focus on the alienating perception of visual paradoxes and optical illusions in games featuring impossible geometry like Fez (Polytron 2012) and Monument Valley (Ustwo Games 2014) (cf. Wildman 2019). Lastly, I will detail how differences in perception between avatars and players have been used as important game mechanics, such as in the multiplayer mode of Assassins Creed Revelations (Ubisoft 2011). With these examples, I want to show how perceptual discrepancies are valuable expressive devices, worthy of the attention of both game scholars and game designers.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Currie, Gregory and Ian Ravenscroft. 2002. Recreative Minds: Imagination in Philosophy and Psychology. Oxford: Oxford university Press. FromSoftware. 2022. Elden Ring. Bandai Namco Entertainment. PlayStation 5. Gualeni, Stefano and Daniel Vella. 2020. Virtual Existentialism. Meaning and Subjectivity in Virtual Worlds. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Polytron. 2012. Fez. Trapdoor. PlayStation 4. Tavinor, Grant. 2022. The Aesthetics of Virtual Reality. Routledge. Ubisoft. 2011. Assassins Creed Revelations. Ubisoft Montreal. PlayStation 3. Ustwo Games. 2014. Monument Valley. Ustwo Games. Android. Wildman, Nathan. 2019. “Sacred Geometry: Optical Illusions within Videogames.” Presentation at the 'Who’s Afraid of Art?' workshop, Tilburg University. Abstract available online on https://www.tilburguniversity.edu/campus/studium-generale/whos-afraid-art-perception Walton, Kendall L. 1990. Mimesis As Make-Believe: On the Foundations of the Representational Arts. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Materially Random Stories: Randomness and Narrative as Material Structures in Digital Games

ABSTRACT. Randomness in digital games is realized on many levels of the player’s experience. The most common discussions regarding this phenomenon focus on the design of mechanics and functionalities based on uncertainty. As Costikyan (2013) claims, this is a common mechanism that keeps players interested in and engaged with the game. Uncertainty is not only restricted to the possibility of the appearance of a certain object or event in the game, but also, among others, to narrative anticipation, or to being unsure of our own abilities, as well as of other players' behaviour.

In recent years, we have witnessed the growing popularity of games that make uncertainty a focal point of their gameplay. Most of the research regarding this topic focuses on the mechanisms of so-called “loot boxes” and the ethical or legal implication of their influence on players (Nielsen & Grabarczyk, 2019; Xiao et al., 2022), on how to generate curiosity in players (To, et al. 2016) or on players’ behaviour towards predicting the probability of gameplay outcomes (Gałka & Strzelecki, 2021). However, questions of uncertainty and randomness also touch upon areas such as procedurally created game space that would be unique to each player, as is the case in No Man's Sky (Hello Games, 2016), or even narrative, as is the case in Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (Monolith Productions, 2014).

In this presentation, I would like to focus on the phenomenon of randomness and the feeling of uncertainty it creates regarding the narrative experience. I will focus not only on the narrative anticipation that is caused by randomness (to follow the types of uncertainty presented by Costikyan), but, in doing so, I would also like to explore the subject of the material nature of the narrative mechanisms in digital games.

In recent years, approaches to game experience have explore the question of materiality in a new direction. As the posthumanist approach has gathered strength in contemporary game studies, we can observe a rising interest in new materialist philosophy, especially the work of Karen Barad. Researchers such as McKeown (2018), Janik (2021), Sicart (2022) point out that the process of play has a material character, despite the game being a digital object. What makes it material is the very connection between player and the game that is created through the intra-action of play. This intra-action, then, is an example of a material-discursive practice that not only bonds entities, but also actively shapes their boundaries and qualities, materialize entities from a sea of phenomena. This requires rethinking, for example, the question of the role and place of agency in games, as well as the process of production of meaning in gameplay.

I shall focus on a particular idea that emerge in Karen Barad’s work – the idea of the apparatus. Their approach builds upon Michel Foucault, but propose a more posthumanist approach rooted in agential realism, approach. Apparata, in Barad’s philosophy, can be described as material-discursive practices, dynamic forces that “enact what matters and what is excluded from mattering” (Barad 2007, p. 148). They are a vital part of the process of materialisation. Thanks to them, phenomena gain distinct qualities and boundaries that can be explored by others. While reality as a whole is a sea of matter, requiring an agential cut to produce – or rather materialize – given phenomena, apparatuses determine what exactly emerges through the connection that was formulated by intra-actions. Moreover, they can change our perception of a phenomenon, change its status, and in this way also influence future events, affairs or discourses. What is also interesting is the fact that apparatuses are open-ended practices that can also be influenced. They are not something stable that simply exists in the world, but are also subjected to a material (re)configurations.

In the context of digital games, I would argue that randomness and mechanics based on randomness are an example of such an apparatus. In other words, randomness in games is a material-discursive practice – a practice that is rooted in materiality (in this case, the materiality of the gaming process) and that discursively gives this material meaningful structure. Out of multiple possibilities, it determines one given outcome with a specific meaning. This specific meaning emerges through discursive practices that are embedded in randomness mechanics.

In this presentation I shall explain this process using examples of randomness mechanisms that are used to produce narrative experiences in games. This will allow me not only to explain how fiction can be created by the materiality of the game, but also how it is possible to give the player the feeling of the uniqueness of the story, by emphasizing the liminal character of all the possible narrative outcomes. I will focus on three examples: the dice rolls mechanism in Disco Elysium (ZA/UM, 2019) that determines the outcomes of dialogue options and possible actions for the player character; the randomness of the generated space and in-game objects in Returnal (Housemarque, 2021) that presents a linear story as something unique for every player; and cards as the vehicle for the progression of the story in Inscryption (Daniel Mullins Games, 2021). The chosen examples show different aspects of randomness’ capacity for building narrative experiences, demonstrating the multiplicity of fiction in games. As apparatuses, these instances of randomness – have a transformative power over the game object and actively co-determine the story.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Barad, K. M. 2007. Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Durham: Duke University Press. Costikyan, G. 2013. Uncertainty in Games. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. Daniel Mullins Games. 2021. Inscryption. PC game . Devolver Digital. Gałka, P., Strzelecki, A. 2021. “How Randomness Affects Player Ability to Predict the Chance to Win at PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)”. The Computer Game Journal 10, 1–18 https://doi.org/10.1007/s40869-020-00117-1 Hello Games. 2016. No Man's Sky. PC game. Hello Games. Housemarque. 2021. Returnal. PC game. Sony Interactive Entertainment. Janik, J. 2021. “Intra-acting bio-object : a posthuman approach to the player‐game relation”. Journal of Gaming & Virtual Worlds, 13(1), 21–39. https://doi.org/10.1386/jgvw_00026_1 McKeown, C. 2018. “Playing with materiality: an agential-realist reading of SethBling’s Super Mario World code-injection”. Information, Communication and Society, 21(9), 1234-1245. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2018.1476572 Monolith Productions. 2014. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. PC game. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Nielsen, R., Grabarczyk, P. 2019. “Are loot boxes gambling? Random reward mechanisms in video games”, DiGRA '18 - Proceedings of the 2018 DiGRA International Conference: The Game is the Message, DiGRA, July, 2018, http://www.digra.org/digital-library/publications/are-lootboxes-gambling-random-reward-mechanisms-in-video-games/ Sicart, M. 2022. “Playthings”. Games and Culture, 17(1), 140-155. https://doi.org/10.1177/15554120211020380 To, A., Ali, S., Kaufman, G., & Hammer, J. 2016. “Integrating Curiosity and Uncertainty in Game Design”. In Proceedings of 1st International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG, Dundee, Scotland, UK, 1-6 August. Digital Games Research Association, http://www.digra.org/wp-content/uploads/digital-library/paper_428.pdf. Xiao L.Y., Henderson L.L., Nielsen R.K.L., Grabarczyk P., Newall P.W.S. (2022) Loot Boxes: Gambling-Like Mechanics in Video Games. In: Lee N. (eds) Encyclopedia of Computer Graphics and Games. Springer, Cham. ZA/UM. 2019. Disco Elysium. PC game. ZA/UM.

11:00-13:00 Session 4G: Cosy Games
Soothing Affect or Neoliberal Indoctrination? Cozy Games and Agency

ABSTRACT. The last few years saw a rise in popularity of cozy games and cozy game aesthetics (Campbell 2022; The Escapist 2022). Not characterized by a hypermasculine drive to successfully overcome challenges, nor by the inessentiality of player action typical of idle and incremental games, cozy games sit somewhere in the middle. This paper understands coziness as a matter of degrees (Cook 2018) that games in the cozy genre such as Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo 2020) have in abundance, and proposes the concept of cozy agency to productively examine the aesthetics of such games. Doing so, on the one hand, sheds light on the kinds of interactivities and agencies designing for coziness can support or restrain; and on the other hand, speaks to why there seems to be a recent increase in the genre’s visibility. Drawing on research around hobbies, gardening, and pets in sociology, leisure studies, and cultural studies (Dale 2017; Raisborough 2011; Taylor 2008), the paper examines the extent to which cozy games can be thought of as offering escapism from, or even resistance to, anxieties caused by neoliberal ideology underpinning the late-capitalist apparatus championing productivity, progress, and quantifiable result generation (Bolstanki & Chapello 2006). Inspired by recent studies into nonhegemonic forms of play (Fizek 2022; Kagen 2022), this paper presents a work in progress asking how we can better understand the kind of agencies afforded by cozy game aesthetics that challenge normative understandings of play as fast-paced, high-intensity, performance-oriented, success-driven, and achievement-focused, thereby speaking to the conference theme of limits and margins of play.

The Cozy and the Strange in Strange Horticulture

ABSTRACT. In this contribution at the intersection of plant studies and game studies, we examine how Strange Horticulture attempts to be both cozy and strange.

Farming a Cosy Utopia: A Regenerative Escape to Simpler Times

ABSTRACT. The paper scrutinises the genre of farming games and its connection to forms of Utopias by exploring three games at hand: Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town (Marvelous 2021), My Time at Portia (Pathea Games 2019), and Animal Crossing: New Horizon (Nintendo 2020). It will lay the focus on the relationship of farming games to the utopian narrative and its themes as well as on their aesthetic of play and how they entice players to ecological thinking and action. This form of regenerative play and its utopian quality will be investigated in its different dimensions.

A Garden of One's Own: Reclaiming Agency at a Free-to-Play Playground

ABSTRACT. The free-to-play business model has been widely criticized for subpar gaming experience, ‘dark patterns’ of game design and commodification of social connections. In the meantime, empirical studies that involved players of FarmVille games has rendered them as possible spaces of productive sociality and reciprocity, valuable for their accessibility. One such meaningful experience is creation of a personal virtual space, and in this paper, I demonstrate how such spaces are created, what kinds of meanings they convey, and how players of a farming game negotiate their agency and contest the rules established by the developers, including typical monetization techniques. The object of this study is a social farming game Royal Story (FunPlus 2012) that has been running on Facebook for over a decade. Players are free in decorating their farm as they wish, and the most active (and wealthy) ones have an impressive abundance of decorations on display, arranged in various patterns on their virtual land. In my research, I have collected and codified the data about spatial arrangements of valuable decorations on the farms of the most dedicated players. This paper will compare the data collected in February 2017 to the similar data to be collected in February 2023. The goal of the study is to revisit value of game objects that were obtained in the ‘hardcore more’ of playing a casual game and/or purchased for real world money by subduing to its ‘economics of impatience’. My preliminary results support previous observations about freeform social play that happens on casual digital playgrounds: dedicated players demonstrate different attitudes towards game rules and techniques of monetization, and they assign a variety of meaning to various arrangements of objects.

11:00-13:00 Session 4H: Decolonization
The Ghosts of Empire: Asian Horror and Postcolonial Pastiche in the Filipino Visual Novel the Letter (2017)

ABSTRACT. This essay analyzes the horror visual novel The Letter (2017) developed by the Filipino video game company Yangyang Mobile. Using theories of postmodernism and postmodernism, the essay proposes to use the concept of postcolonial pastiche to describe the ability of The Letter to mimic the form of the visual novel and reuse the tropes of Asian horror to depict the personal anxieties and social inequalities experienced by the seven main characters of the game as perennial problems inherent in the modern global capitalist society. By using familiar and popular genres, The Letter provides a sincere portrayal of social marginalization of migrants, minorities, and other marginalized groups.

Love Letters to India?: Adapting Colonial Fiction in the Secret Games Company's Kim

ABSTRACT. This extended abstract describes a work-in-progress study of The Secret Games Company’s ‘Kim’ (2016) – an open-world top-down role-playing game based on Kipling’s 1901 novel of the same name – through the lens of ‘imperial play’, a concept recently introduced by Rachel Lara van der Merwe. In my analysis, I propose to pay closer attention to marginal non-player characters (NPCs), such as those adapted from Kipling’s 1880s short stories ‘Lispeth’ and ‘The Man Who Would Be King’. Whilst specifically contributing to charting the contemporary reception of Kipling’s literary works through the discussion of a case study, my still ongoing research will also address pressing issues concerning the process of adapting literary texts for an interactive medium and the representation/simulation of imperialist ideologies in video games, with a view to making a contribution to video game adaptation studies and postcolonial game studies as well.

#OtomeArmada: Otome Games, Networks and Deterritorialization

ABSTRACT. In this paper, I focus my analysis on how certain cultural initiatives such as Hallyu, practices such as rom hacking and fan translations, and online communities of independent creators and players have functioned to deterritorialize otome games away from Ikebukuro’s Otome Road. Case studies and interviews that are included here all help illustrate how online communities have deterritorialized otome games away from its country of origin. They also highlight how networks are equally important at reimagining these games.

Invisible at the Edge: Playing with the Geoglyphs of Occupation in Anglo-America

ABSTRACT. INTRODUCTION Maps are a pervasive feature of a wide variety of board games. Edward Said expressed the importance of maps and geography in postcolonial inquiry: “Just as none of us is outside or beyond geography, none of us is completely free from the struggles over geography. That struggle is complex and interesting because it is not only about soldiers and cannons but also about ideas, about forms, about images and imaginings.” (1993, 7) We offer our analysis of board games telling spatial narratives of European settler colonialism in Anglo-American1 through a critical reading of the way these games map the land and invite players to bring those maps alive through gameplay. Our theoretical foundation includes Harley (1988), Scott (1998), Wolfe (2006), and Barnd (2017). We also build on video game research, especially that of Lammes (2003, 2010), Magnet (2006), and Mukherjee (2017). But it should be noted that all of these authors study video game. We have found the need to develop a parallel apparatus for the critical analysis of board games with their unique qualities in terms of materiality, player configurations, and role in the cultural discourse. By building a substantial collection of colonialist themed board games and dedicating time to play through and analyze them, we have found emergent patterns that remain hidden as long as the games are studies separately. We intend to have played over one hundred games for this study in time for the final version of the abstract and the conference presentation.

A CRITICAL LEXICON We present our analysis in the form of a critical lexicon.

Figure 1: Carcassone: Gold Rush (Wrede, 2014) and Uffington White Horse (USGS 2008).

Geoglyphs This concept lays a foundation for the subsequent analysis. When making maps playable, game creators let go of basic principles of coherence. When we reach into the past to play with it, maps cease to map onto anything. Instead, they serve a function akin to geoglyphs. A geoglyph is a large design produced on the ground that only can be perceived properly from the sky. Game maps, like geoglyphs, only make sense when viewed from a distance (fig. 1). Whenever we try to inspect that which supposedly is being mapped, the image dissolves into incoherence.

Figure 2: New World: A Carcassonne Game (Wrede, 2014) and Go West! (Colovino 2005).

East-to-West In accordance with manifest destiny2 dogma, we often fill in the geoglyphs from east to west. The determinism of this ideology is occasionally underscored by mechanics forcing the players to keep up the pace moving west. (fig.2).

Figure 3: The Lewis & Clark Adventure Game (Educational Insights 2003) and Oregon Trail (Kanterman and Ulberg 1981).

Paths In games depicting the early stages of colonization the westward movement follows paths determined by the existing geography. Players typically race to be the first to reach locations of historical significance for the colonizers such as Fort Clatsop or Oregon City (fig. 3).

Figure 4: Oklahoma Boomers (F 2014) and The American Goldrush 1849 (du Poël 1985).

Zones The next step after movement along the paths is to claim land and resources. The mechanics include area enclosure and racing to tiles (fig. 4).

Figure 5: 1830: Railways and Robber Barons (Tresham 1986) and Empire Express (Roznai 2012).

Lines As the settler colonialist project nears completion, lines assert themselves over the geography dependent paths. Train games celebrate the expansion of the American rail network in general (fig. 5), and the completion of the connection of the two coasts with the golden spike3 that served as the coronation of the United States as the world’s leading empire.

Figure 6: Great Western Trail with the Rails to the North expansion (Pfister 2017, 2018) and Carnegie (Georges 2021).

Optimization Once the coasts are connected, the maps turn into optimization problems. The previous east-to-west expansion is replaced with west-to-east delivery of the spoils of exploitation (fig. 6).

Figure 7: Days of Steam (Lauster 2008) and Homesteaders (Rockwell 2017).

Palimpsest Finally, these games almost always imply an empty void before the trails, homesteads, rails, and borders fill the map (fig. 7). This not only enforces the terra nullius myth (Foasberg 2016), but we also argue that the less we see of the pre-Columbian geography, the easier it is to not think of the land as occupied. The geoglyphs become markings of ownership and a process of slowly dissolving the underlying palimpsest4.

CONCLUSIONS The construction and enactment of game maps by designers and players reinforces the messaging of a hegemonic occupier. In the vernacular of Scott (1998), we are invited to “see like a state.” But we also act from the perspective of an imperial force. Geoglyphs survive through regular maintenance, often with their original meaning and context lost (Pollard 2017). Similarly, the mythology and values of settler colonialism are maintained through the regular enactment of its stories. As we fill the suspiciously empty map board with paths, zones, and lines we continually marginalize the indigenous peoples until they are made invisible at the edge.

ENDNOTES 1 North America north of Mexico. 2 The belief that American settlers were destined by God to expand across North America. 3 The ceremonial final spike of the first transcontinental railroad across the United States. 4 Medieval manuscripts that have been multiply erased and inscribed with overlapping texts.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Barnd, Natchee Blu. 2017. Native Space: Geographic Strategies to Unsettle Settler Colonialism. Corvallis, OR, USA: Oregon State University Press. Colovino, Leo. 2005. Go West! Board Game. Phalanx Games. Educational Insights. 2003. The Lewis & Clark Adventure Game. Educational Insights. F, Martyn. 2014. Oklahoma Boomers. Board Game. Emma Games. Foasberg, Nancy. 2016. “The Problematic Pleasures of Productivity and Efficiency in Goa and Navegador.” Analog Game Studies. 3 (1). Georges, Xavier. 2021. Carnegie. Board Game. Quined Games. Harley, J. B. 1988. “Maps, Knowledge, and Power.” In The Iconography of Landscape edited by Denis Cosgrove and Stephen Daniels, 277-312. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Kanterman, Leonard H. and Steven J. Ulberg. 1981. Oregon Trail. Board Game. Fantasy Games Unlimited. Lammes, Sybille. 2003. “On the Border: Pleasures of Exploration and Colonial Mastery in Civilization III: Play the World.” In Level Up: Digital Games Research Conference, edited by Marinka Copier and Joost Raessens, 120–129. Utrecht: Utrecht University. Lammes, Sybille. 2010. “Postcolonial Playgrounds: Games and Postcolonial Culture.” Eludamos: Journal for Computer Game Culture. 4 (1): 1–6. Lamourisse, Albert. 1959. Risk. Board Game. Parker Brothers. Lauster, Aaron. 2008. Days of Steam. Board Game. Valley Games. Magnet, Shoshana. 2006. Playing at Colonization Interpreting Imaginary Landscapes in the Video Game Tropico. Journal of Communication Inquiry. 30 (2): 142-162. Mukherjee, Souvik. 2017. Videogames and Postcolonialism: Empire Plays Back. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. du Poël, Jean. 1985. The American Goldrush 1849. Board Game. Historien Spiele Galerie. Pfister, Alexander. 2017. Great Western Trail. Board Game. Eggert Spiele. Pfister, Alexander. 2018. Great Western Trail: Rails to the North. Board Game. Plan B Games. Pollard, Joshua. 2017. “The Uffington White Horse geoglyph as sun-horse”. Antiquity, 91(356), 406-420. Rockwell, Alex. 2017. Homesteaders. Board Game. Tasty Minstrel Games -- 5 -- Roznai, Larry. 2012. Empire Express. Board Game. Mayfair Games. Said, Edward W. 1993. Culture and Imperialism. New York, NY, USA: Random House. Scott, James C. 1998. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. New Haven, CT, USA: Yale University Press. Tresham, Francis. 1986. 1830: Railways and Robber Barons. Board Game. Avalon Hill. USGS. 2008. Satelite view of the Uffington White Horse. https://commons.wikimedia. org/wiki/File:Uffington-White-Horse-sat.jpg Wolfe, Patrick. 2006. Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native, Journal of Genocide Research, 8:4. Wrede, Klaus-Jürgen. 2008. New World: A Carcassonne Game. Board Game. Rio Grande Games. Wrede, Klaus-Jürgen. 2014. Carcassonne: Gold Rush. Board Game. Z-Man Games.

11:00-13:00 Session 4I: Young and Old Players
Finnish Young Adolescents' Digital Gaming and Physical Activity Behaviour

ABSTRACT. In this cross-sectional study of Finnish adolescents, we investigated the rates of digital game playing and examined the associations between playing a lot of digital games and physical activity or sport club participation. A national representative sample (n = 1979) from Finland aged between 11y–15y olds completed a self-report survey in 2022. Analyses were carried out by chi-square tests and logistic regression analyses. More males (74%) than females (26%) played digital games at least once a day. Playing at least daily decreased from 11y (53%), 13y (30%) to 15y (17%) olds. Positive associations were found with playing ball sport simulations and taking part in >4 days/week of physical activity or sport club participation (OR = 2.8, CI=1.7–4.4). Negative associations were found between playing a lot of first-person shooter games and sport club participation (OR = 0.6, CI=0.4–0.9). The results imply that representational features in genres may be relevant for their links to physical activity.

Gamer Identity, Masculinities, and Feminities. An Analysis of Teenagers' Perception of Gamer Identity

ABSTRACT. Gamer identity has become an emerging topic in the field of Game Studies. In recent years, relevant contributions have emerged, especially connected to Cultural Studies, highlighting the importance of structural inequalities in understanding players' relationship with video games (Shaw, 2012; Thornham, 2011). In this sense, previous studies reveal the multiplicity and complexity behind the concept (Muriel & Crawford, 2018) and, in turn, how socioeconomic and identity factors play a relevant role in understanding the definitions that emerge around the gamer category (Author 1a, 2022; Author 1b, 2022). In this context, it is interesting to analyse the historical formation of gaming culture and the hegemonic imaginary built around the figure of the gamer, feeding the positive association between masculinity and technology (Kivijärvi & Katila, 2022). This association would respond to the historical appropriation that models of hegemonic masculinity have made of rationality and reason, turning them into masculine attributes (Connell, 2005). Furthermore, this appropriation would have turned technical knowledge into a source of legitimacy for male domination, giving rise to models of masculinity, such as geek masculinity, which bases power on the mastery of the digital (Condis, 2018). This article aims to analyse the role played by models of masculinity and femininity in constructing the gamer identity among teenagers, taking into account gender and social class. Methodologically, this research has been conducted with 48 adolescents between 14 and 15 years old in Barcelona and Vic cities (Spain). Specifically, eight focus groups were carried out, separated by gender and social class; eight semi-structured virtual interviews and eight online gaming interviews. The results of this study reveal that models of masculinity and femininity play different roles depending on teenagers' social class, being significantly accentuated among working-class teenagers. In this sense, we observe that working-class boys and girls seem to have a single reference rooted in the primordial idea of the hardcore-subcultural gamer (Muriel & Crawford, 2018). On the one hand, the perception of the gamer identity seems to be fundamentally based on a technicist discourse of the medium, where dedication (time spent), competitiveness and skill are the defining characteristics of a 'good gamer' (gamer as a 'he', using the masculine) (Disalvo, 2017; Author 1b, 2022; Witkowski, 2013). On the other hand, this definition, based on models of hegemonic masculinity (Connell & Messerschmidt, 2005; Salter & Blodger, 2012), excludes any possibility of opening up the definition and, therefore, of including new groups in the community. This seems to feed and reinforce sensationalist and stereotypical discourses about the medium and, in turn, limits the possibilities for teenagers to identify as gamers due to the levels of self-demand imposed concerning dedication and skill with the medium (Kowert et al., 2014). All of this reinforces the hardcore versus casual duality, feminising and discriminating against certain gaming practices and titles while associating them with a certain pretension of gamer status that supposedly does not deserve recognition by the community and the industry (Author 1a, 2022). Conversely, the results obtained in the groups of middle-class boys and girls allowed us to observe a trend of openness of the concept. That is, a deconstruction of the defining limits of the gamer identity, moving away from the possibility of a single (exclusive) masculinised definition and, at the same time, redefining the limits of masculinity and femininity associated with the concept. In this sense, we observe the emergence of professional definitions, such as the gamer-professional or the celebrity-platform-gamer (Author 1a, 2022), but also of a cultural nature, such as the foodie-connoisseur, proposed by Muriel and Crawford (2018), which reinforces the cultural-intellectual vision of the medium. In this way, middle-class teenagers propose a wide range of characteristics that may (or may not) define who is considered a gamer and why, among which stand out the interest in and knowledge of the medium (in an exploratory sense and, in some cases, of a cultural-intellectual nature), as well as the importance of having fun, away from competitive eagerness, and the possibility of learning. In short, the study reveals that social class plays a relevant role in understanding how models of masculinity and femininity are intertwined in gamer identity definitions of teenagers and, in turn, their relationship with video games (Author 1b, 2022).

Silver Gaming in Poland. The Margin or the Future of the Gaming Industry?

ABSTRACT. The gaming culture and communities are in constant change. One of the facets of that transition is visible in sociological and demographical indicators. The number of older (or silver) gamers has been steadily rising over the last decades (Dale, Shawn Green 2017). In 2019, the AARP organization explored the gaming habits and attitudes of Americans aged 50 plus. The conclusions suggest that the inclusion of older citizens into gaming culture will continue, changing the state of the gaming industry (Nelson-Kakulla 2019). And the process is not limited to North American society. In 2017 ISFE (The Interactive Software Federation of Europe) with Ipsos agency deduced similar findings from European markets, concluding that there “is evidence of a growing appetite for gaming across a whole range of age and gender groups” (ISFE 2017). Yet, there are still European countries with limited studies on silver gamers, including Poland. Therefore, in my research, I focused on Polish society.

I derived the idea of studying the silver gaming phenomenon in Poland from the simultaneous occurrence of two macrosocial processes: the process of population ageing (“demographic factor”) (United Nations 2020) and the process of ludification of culture (“cultural factor”) (Lammes 2015). Their mutual occurrence seemed to create prerequisites for video games' popularization among older citizens, including Polish citizens. Moreover, the limited quantitative data supported this theoretical assumption (ISFE 2012), though the lack of in-depth knowledge on this topic is conspicuous.

To fill this knowledge gap, I designed and conducted an exploratory qualitative study on gaming practices among Polish citizens aged 60 plus who played video games on any hardware platform at least once a week in the last six months. The study included personal, family, educational and institutional contexts to achieve a holistic approach typical of the sociological perspective. To gain in-depth insights and a better understanding of the gaming habits of Polish senior citizens, I performed ten open-ended and unstructured interviews. An equal number of open-ended and unstructured interviews were conducted among experts (mostly media education and NGO representatives) to expand the perspective to educational and institutional contexts. The data was analysed in a mixed coding procedure, including concept-driven coding and data-driven coding (open coding), in MaxQDA 2020. As a result, the coding book consisted of more than 1200 transcript segments, allowing an in-depth understanding of the gathered data and the research problem.

The main results provide a better understanding of silver gamers in Poland, who usually: 1) implement the restricted type of gaming pattern that is limited to the ludic aspects of video games, ignoring their educational or social potential; 2) suffer stagnation related to their gaming competencies and experiences, thus limiting the chance for development both as gamers (enrichment of gaming capital) and older citizens (social inclusion through digital technologies); 3) have limited interest in social features of games that are encouraging intergenerational and intrageneration gaming; 4) might be unconsciously exposed to the negative gaming scheme described as “gaming disorder” in WHO's ICD-11 classification (WHO 2020); 5) suffer lack of proper support from families, institutions or state authorities. Detailed explanations of the mentioned findings will be provided during the conference presentation. To conclude, in Poland the potential of silver gaming is still untapped, and numerous actions on several levels have to be done to release it.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Dale, G. and Shawn Green C. 2017. “The changing face of video games and video gamers: Future directions in the scientific study of video game play and cognitive performance.” Journal of Cognitive Enhancement 1, 280–294. ISFE. 2017. The New Faces of Gaming. https://www.isfe.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/ipsos_connect_gaming_feb_17.pdf. ISFE. 2012. Video Games in Europe: Consumer Study. https://www.isfe.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/euro_summary_-_isfe_consumer_study.pdf. Nelson-Kakulla, B. 2019. 2020 Gaming Trends of the 50+. Washington, DC: AARP Research. https://doi.org/10.26419/res.00328.001. Lammes, S. 2015. “Digital cartographies as playful practices.” In Playful identities: the ludification of digital media cultures edited by V. Frissen, S. Lammes, M. de Lange, J. de Mul and J. Raessens, 199–210. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. United Nations. 2020. World Population Ageing 2020 Highlights: Living arrangements of older persons (ST/ESA/SER.A/451). WHO. 2020. 6C51 Gaming disorder. https://icd.who.int/browse11/l-m/en#/http%3A%2F%2Fid.who.int%2Ficd%2Fentity%2F1448597234.

"You Have to Manage on Your Own": the Challenges and Resources of Gaming in Old Age

ABSTRACT. The experience of “silver gamers‚” a marketing nickname for older adults who play video games‚ calls attention to discursive shifts about digital play‚ its instrumental potential‚ and its player communities. To discuss the questions that older players raise in that regard‚ I present the results of a research project on video game play in old age conducted in France between 2018 and 2021. I argue that old age matters in video game play because its material, social, and symbolical circumstances of exclusion and marginality shape older players’ experience. Older adults' digital play features patterns that reflect the difficulties as well as the opportunities offered by their status as outsiders in gaming communities and cultures.

11:00-13:00 Session 4J: Situated Learning
Locating Videogame Development in Australian Higher Education

ABSTRACT. Formal higher education (HE) has become an increasingly common pathway into videogame development careers over the past two decades. Throughout the same period, the quality and worth of videogame development HE programs has been hotly debated by developers, employees, students, educators, and policymakers (Yang 2018, Warner 2018, Wright 2018). An emerging body of scholarly literature has begun to critique these broad anxieties and hopes to develop more nuanced understandings of the social contexts of game development HE. Formal videogame development education, research suggests, at once perpetuates entrenched hegemonic structures of the capitalistic and patriarchal videogame industry, while also providing space for potential resistance and potential alternative pathways and identities into gamemaking (Harvey 2019; Harvey 2022; Ashton 2009; Kerr 2017; Keogh 2023).

In particular, game development HE has been connected to the rise of “creative industries” style programs that rebrand fine arts and cultural studies programs alike “as a way of signalling to prospective students a move from practice that looks inwards to aesthetics and craft skills, to one that looks outwards to applications of creativity outside of the arts” (Flew 2019, 169). Indeed, as Professor of Screen Media Jon Dovey at the University of the West of England proposed to Terry Flew for an investigation into the growth of Creative Industries programs in Australia and the UK:

the development of courses in games had prefigured what would become a creative industries approach, in that they combined technical and creative skills, for graduates who had to be prepared to work collaboratively, to network in a highly informal business ecosystem, and be prepared to mix highly commercial work with activities that aligned with their creative passions and desire to make a difference in the world (Flew 2019, 175). Game development HE is thus arguably the creative industries agenda par excellence in the way it seemingly marries technical and creative skills, professional business and vocational passion, and individualistic entrepreneurism and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Yet, sitting in the middle of technology and creativity sectors, skills, and identities is at least as often a burden as it is blessing for videogame development. The videogame industry tends to “fall between the policy stools”: “caught between the fact that their global provenance inhibits their qualifying under national cultural policy measures, and their innovations relating to content [excluding] them from technology-based R&D schemes” (Cunningham 2013, 34). For the cultural sector, videogames offer the excitement and tangibility of the tech sector to neoliberal policymakers and investors, but struggle to present traditionally understood modes of cultural expression and aesthetic value. For the tech sector, videogames offer the excitement and coolness of creative work that looks far more appealing that Excel spreadsheets or payroll backends, but struggles to present traditionally valued models of economic growth and innovation as most videogame development teams operate more like music bands than startups (Whitson et al 2021; Keogh 2023). For both the culture and tech sectors videogames are a useful outsider, but an outsider nonetheless.

Thus while videogame development might exemplify the encroachment of the creative industries agenda into HE, just where videogame development resides—or should reside—within HE institutions remains unresolved. To develop videogames requires critical and cultural skills such as storytelling, aesthetic analysis, social analysis, visual design, and rhetoric—all traditionally the territory of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) disciplines. But developing videogames also requires technical skills such as computer programming, software development, trigonometry, network coding, hardware management, and user-interface design—all traditionally the territory of STEM disciplines. Videogame development could be, and indeed is, taught within both HASS and STEM departments with different foci on different skills, different potential job outcomes, and different graduate identities.

While the growing body of research of game development HE has largely focused on the empirical experiences and perspectives of students and educators, little attention has been paid thus far to the varying institutional contexts within which these experiences and perspectives are entrenched. In this paper we draw from a discursive mapping of videogame development across Australian HE institutions to highlight the ambivalent and complex position game development sits in within HE. Drawing from publicly-available information on 119 programs that teach videogame development in some capacity, we show that while game development HE is consistently positioned as a pathway towards employability in the videogame industry through targeting prospective students’ existing consumerist gamer identities, just what skills and capacities programs emphasise as crucial for such employability varies pending on the program’s institutional context as a HASS, STEM, or exclusively Games department.

Across the 119 game development programs was a consistent focus in line with broader trends of HE marketisation on skill training and capacity building of human capital for the labour market. Programs consistently focused on developing job-ready skills, offering industry connections, and the nebulous importance of an entrepreneurial mindsets that will allow students to turn unpredictable futures into self-chosen adventures. However, within this broader commonality were also discrepancies in how skills and career pathways were framed by different institutional contexts. Just as videogames possess a formative tension (rather than a synergy) between the technical and creative spheres in terms of industry structure, government policy, and design epistemologies, so too it seems does their formal education. As videogame development requires the convergence of a broad range of technical and creative skills, different programs housed in different disciplinary contexts provide different emphases that in turn shift how videogame development itself is presented to students—and just what skills and potential graduate identities are presented as desirable and feasible. These varied disciplinary contexts mean that not all game development HE programs are created equal—not simply in quality but in terms of the ideologies, cultures, skills, and graduate imaginaries that students are recruited into. Ultimately, we argue that rather than marrying STEM and HASS, game development HE instead seems fundamentally torn between different disciplinary cultures, ideologies, and aims.

Playing Animal Farm: Designing a Dungeons & Dragons [D&D] One-Shot for Pivotal Play and Learning

ABSTRACT. Contemporary research and discourse exploring intersections of games and learning leans towards the design and experiences of digital games. Despite their growing popularity in recent years, investigation of non-digital games and learning remains limited in comparison. This paper describes the game design process and presents a key finding from early playtest data of All Players Are Equal—a Dungeons & Dragons [D&D] (Arneson and Gygax 1974) one-shot experience inspired by George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm (1945). The game leverages mechanics such as agency, transgression, and death—which are also key themes represented in the novel—to facilitate a shared pivotal play and learning experience. By discussing key design choices and reflections from initial playtests (12 participants total, 7M, 5F, aged 18-40), this paper offers insight into how opportunities for pivotal play and learning may be created or enhanced within games.

Valletta: Streets of History: Documenting the Process of Developing a Location-Based Game in the Area of Maltese History and Culture

ABSTRACT. Playing Maltese History is a project funded by Malta Arts Council involving the research for and development of a mobile AR game about the cultural history of Malta titled Valletta: Streets of History (Bewitched Mitches 2023), officially released in March of this year. As a concept, it was conceived in an effort to bridge the gap between historical research and detective games; or rather to make the profound connections between the two practices explicit. The design of the game attempts to simulate the process of conducting archival research by situating the player in the role of a detective-historian who unearths details from Maltese history and culture, which are not generally foregrounded in the textbooks. The game invites the player to trace these events in actual locations by means of geolocation mechanics and AR elements. It additionally employs more traditional methods of ludic engagement, like puzzles and scoring games, which are thematically adapted to reflect the historical content of the game. In this paper, the development team first analyses the research supporting the project by highlighting the affinities between historical research and detective games. In the second part, we document the process of development from conceptualisation and funding application to research and implementation up to dissemination. In this, we aim to contribute to the theoretical discussion around game design methods and approaches, especially within the context of historical games, as well as providing a practical example of game development and distribution for other interested game designers and academics.

The Player-Learner Experience: a Comparison of Game Masters and Pedagogical Practices

ABSTRACT. The game master (GM) in a tabletop roleplaying game serves many roles, from planning and directing a game to teaching other players how to play. In many ways, this role mirrors that of an instructor in the classroom who plans, orates, and directs a lesson. There are several game design tools and techniques which good GMs use to successfully engage their players, and these design principles parallel how good teachers lead a class. This article serves three purposes: first, to highlight the parallel relationships between the GM-Teacher and the Player-Learner; second, to propose this comparison as a lens to understanding the art of designed playful learning experiences; and finally, to offer a practical guide (in the Appendix) to GMs and teachers alike in interaction design, emphasizing the Player-Learner’s experience as a critical factor for enjoyable play and effective learning.

11:00-13:00 Session 4K: Handheld Lifestyle
Modding Leisure: Content Creation in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

ABSTRACT. This paper addresses participatory culture in Animal Crossing: New Horizons (ACNH) through a study of the impact that software modification (modding) had on players who approached the videogame as content creators. Through participatory research and semi-formal interviews conducted with members of English-speaking online communities in autumn 2022, this paper studies the actual and everyday practices of ACNH modders, examining the motivations behind their unsanctioned engagements with Nintendo’s intellectual property. The goals of this paper are twofold: to consider how this community has challenged inherited assumptions about who mods videogames; and to explore why participants undertake this labor in the first place.

Playing with Animal Crossing. a Data-Based Analysis of Regional and Transregional Practices in the Japanese, Korean and Chinese YouTube Space

ABSTRACT. In recent years, video sharing and streaming platforms like YouTube, Bilibili, or Twitch.tv have become important spaces for engaging with, appropriating and thus playing with videogames. Let’s Plays, video walkthroughs, game-based commentaries and adaptations are more than extensions or “paratexts” to the games (Consalvo 2017, Roth 2022). They have developed into widely shared and at the same time regionally and culturally specific cultural practices (Ackermann 2017; Katō 2017; Taylor 2018). Focusing on Japanese, Korean and Chinese language videos about Atsumare dōbutsu no mori (Nintendo, 2020, Engl.: Animal Crossing: New Horizons, hereafter ACNH), this paper examines how these practices result in regional or transregional spaces or engagement with videogames on YouTube. The increasing globalization of YouTube and its popularity in Japan and Korea notwithstanding, the platform has also become an increasingly fragmented, nationalized space dominated by recommendations based on geopolitical categories (Burgess and Green 2018: 130–135). Such fragmentation takes place both due to the ways in which the platform configures space and draws boundaries, and due to regionally specific expectations, practices, languages and actors. Regional stars like Hikakin [ヒカキン], who dominates the Japanese Let’s Play scene, or The Common Siblings [흔한남매], a very popular Let’s Player duo producing content in Korean, are good examples of the ways in which the Let’s Play as a form may be shared across regions, but is instantiated with regional specificity in terms of contents and styles. By mapping out the user interactions related to popular videos about ACNH in Japanese, Korean and Chinese, I show that the YouTube space on ACNH is indeed both transregionally interconnected and regionally specific. The analysis draws on the 100 most viewed YouTube videos in each language, examining different distributions of video content type, user networks, comment languages and user networks. The results indicate that, whereas entertainment-oriented Let’s Plays tend to be regional phenomena, videos that play with the content of the game and adapt it in parodic or artistic ways are capable of transgressing language and other regional boundaries much more readily. These results draw attention to the plurality of ways in which videogames are played with. Whereas popular titles such as ACNH are frequently perceived as “global,” their various related practices differ significantly. By showing how different types of content contribute to such regionalization or to transgressing – in this case language-based – boundaries, I highlight the distinct spatiality involved in pratices of playing with videogames on YouTube. While qualitative approaches to let’s plays have been proposed in the past (Radde-Antweiler and Zeiler 2015), methodologies for dealing with large quantities of YouTube data capable of considering regional and transregional practices from a distance are still scarce (Burgess and Green 2018, 17). In addition to presenting its findings on playing with ACNH on YouTube, the paper thus also showcases a new method for approaching videogame culture and its spatiality, and concludes by critically evaluating this method.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Ackermann, J. 2017. “Einleitung: Phänomen Let’s Play – Entstehung und wissenschaftliche Relevanz eines Remediatisierungsphänomens.” In Phänomen Let´s Play-Video, edited by J. Ackermann, 1–15. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden. Burgess, J., and Green, J. 2018. Youtube: Online Video and Participatory Culture. Second edition. Digital Media and Society Series. Cambridge, UK Malden, MA: Polity Press. Consalvo, M. 2017. “When Paratexts Become Texts: De-Centering the Game-as-Text.” Critical Studies in Media Communication 34 (2): 177–83. Katō, H. 2017. “ゲーム実況イベント [Gēmu Jikkyō Ibento].” In 現代メディア・イベント論 [Gendai media ibento ron], edited by Y. Iida and S. Tateishi, 109–51. Tokyo: Keisōshobō. Nintendo. 2020. Atsumare dōbutsu no mori [Animal Crossing: New Horizons]. Nintendo Switch. Japan: Nintendo. Radde-Antweiler, K., and Zeiler, X. 2015. “Methods for Analyzing Let’s Plays: Context Analysis for Gaming Videos on YouTube.” gamevironments 2: 100–139. Roth, Martin. 2022. “Reclaiming Everydayness and Japanese Cultural Routines in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.” Journal of Intercultural Studies 43 (6): 722–39. Taylor, T. L. 2018. Watch Me Play: Twitch and the Rise of Game Live Streaming. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Playable, Portable, Pretty?: Gender in Nintendo DS Lifestyle Software

ABSTRACT. This paper considers how the Nintendo DS (2004) helped to both break from, and reinforce the barriers of feminized time, spreading casual gaming into women’s everyday life through so-called ‘lifestyle software’ (jitsuyō sofuto). The paper is a work-in-process that presents the concept of lifestyle software on the Nintendo DS as ludic media that constructed, inflected, and censured both a “female” subjectivity, and a “female” body through productive play.

Peer-pressure? A Motivation-focused Taxonomy of Social Mechanics in Microtransaction-based Mobile Games

ABSTRACT. A work-in-progress working with players to identify if and how social mechanics in microtransaction-based games might influence player spending motivations.

13:00-14:30Lunch Break
14:30-16:00 Session 5A: Limits of Representation
Let's Play Evangelization. Digital Televangelism and the "A Plague Tale" Series

ABSTRACT. This paper investigates how digital video games are used in the context of YouTube-based televangelism. [Extended abstract]

Beyond Mad Scientists and Distracted Geniuses: Images of the Science and Scientists in Prey

ABSTRACT. One of the ways how the public perception of science is formed is through the works of the entertainment industry such as literature, comics, cinema and, in recent decades, digital games. Games showed a relevant growth in their importance as a cultural product; however, they present particularities that make these analyses challenging. Therefore, it becomes relevant to explore methodologies to understand how the images of science and scientists have been portrayed in game media. This work aims to understand how the digital game Prey presents images of science and scientists in its narrative, its visual and its procedural aspects. It is exploratory qualitative research, with a method combining autoethnography complemented by the analysis of videos by YouTubers. We analysed the collected material through discourse analysis based on the Semiology of Social Discourses. We conclude that such representations appear in a sophisticated way, interlacing narrative, visuals and game rules to foster reflections on ethics, capitalism and labour relations, avoiding the repetition of science stereotypes common in entertainment works.

14:30-16:00 Session 5B: Ludic Subjectivities
Role Playing as Your Happier Self: Self-Help Games as Female-Coded "Leisure"

ABSTRACT. Fair Play—a self-help card game designed to help couples re-allocate housework in a more egalitarian way—offers game scholars a fascinating object of study at the intersection of feminist gamer identity, self-help discourse, and serious card game design.

Of Mice and Lemmings: Ludic Subjectivity and Interface in a Historical Context

ABSTRACT. Lemmings (1991) has a peculiar place in the history of video games. Produced by the Scottish company DMA Design, It was a massive critical and commercial hit at the time of its release, selling an estimated 15 million copies across various platforms (Dailly 2006). However, save for several sequels from the early to mid-1990s, it has had relatively little influence on subsequent games, especially compared to DMA Design’s later hit Grand Theft Auto (1997). It has likewise attracted very little attention in game studies, save for brief mentions such as by Pérez-Latorre (2013). This paper will argue that the game’s design was tied to a specific moment in the history of computer hardware and game industry practices, and that it presents a unique type of ludic subjectivity. The paper is based on secondary historical sources (especially published interviews and memoirs) and our analysis of the game.

As opposed to following existing genre templates, Lemmings was a game that grew out of experimentation and tinkering. It combined two unused ideas: a tiny animated character originally designed for Walker (1993), and a terrain-tracing algorithm originally intended for a missile in Blood Money (1989) but later used to control lemmings’ movement. Importantly, the game was designed to be controlled with a mouse. At the time, the mouse had become a common personal computer peripheral, allowing for new types of interaction. As pointed out by Gaboury, mouse-controlled graphical user interfaces refigured “the act of computing [...] from a set of procedural calculations into an interactive environment, understood as a spatially embodied field of discrete computable objects” (2021, 17). The mouse as a controller has come to stand in for “easy access” (Atkinson 2007). In gaming, the mouse has been likewise used for fast selection and manipulation of objects, or - in the case of Lemmings - instantaneously assigning tasks to individual lemmings, and thereby solving the game’s puzzles.

The increasing popularity of mouse-based interfaces in the late 1980s and early 1990s led to the rise in popularity of PC gaming genres like the god game (Populous (1989)), the 4X game (Civilization (1991)) and the real-time strategy game (Dune II (1992)). Besides the interface, Lemmings shares with these subgenres some of the foundational assumptions that shape the player’s subjective positioning towards the gameworld.

In Lemmings, the player adopts a transcendent ludic subjectivity (Vella 2016), not tied to embodiment in an avatar or player-character that exists as an entity in the gameworld. Instead, they relate to the gameworld as a disembodied set of functions to be wielded with a point of the cursor and a mouse-button click: a point of action (Thon 2006) that can roam freely.

For the player, through the cursor, every animate entity in the gameworld is immediately available as something to be clicked on and commanded. Just like the icons laid out on the computer desktop, all the entities in the gameworld are ready-to-hand, tools waiting to be used. In relation to the gameworld, the player exists at a remove, on a higher ontological level, untouchable and unreachable. The player can act upon the gameworld, but they cannot be acted upon.

This ontological distinction between player and gameworld entities has further implications. In Lemmings - as in many of the games listed above - the player is the sole human agent relating to a host of non-individuated, identical and interchangeable “computational others,” beings “whose behavior is machinic, and driven by computational algorithms” (Anonymized). Left to their own devices, the Lemmings will either remain stuck in an endless loop - performing what Galloway might term an “ambience act” (Galloway 2006) - or lead themselves to their death. Rather than interacting with each other or with other simulated entities, they interact almost exclusively with the terrain.

While Lemmings follow their own procedural logic, this is no idle game in which the player is present as “a bystander or delegating agent rather than the primary performer” (Fizek 2022, 55). Lemmings adheres to the more conventional idea of the player as “an intentional subject acting upon dead matter” (ibid., 3), tasked with “constant attention and care” emerging from “the responsibility to keep the game ‘alive’” (ibid., 38). This idea, we argue, is common to the aforementioned list of game genres that rose to prominence in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and is founded upon the logic of the mouse-based interface they share.

While the mouse-based interface situates the player as a god towards the gameworld, it also gives them the responsibility to care for the computational others making up that world, and for the preservation of the algorithmic system as a whole (Möring 2019). However, the game recognizes and even indulges the player’s temptation to turn towards mischief or sadism. In fact, this was a primary impulse in the game’s development: Stanton notes that “very early in development the team knew killing lemmings was entertaining,” and the first animation tests for the character sprites involved them being killed by a variety of traps (n.d.).

Lemmings thus embodies the ontology of the mouse-based interface; however, it also diverged in marked ways from other games and genres that adopted this interface. First of all, it is primarily a puzzle rather than a strategy game. Its levels consist of abstract or semi-abstract topographies foregrounding a puzzle to be solved. Relatedly, despite the apparent level of control granted to the player’s, each level is structured around a single solution they are required to work out in order to progress to the next level. In effect, the player’s ludic subjectivity - at least, in terms of the implied player position - is just as circumscribed by the game system as the Lemmings’. Lemmings can be therefore likened to a God game without god-like agency and even without a believable world to rule over. This paradox, along with the waning novelty of mouse control and the fact that puzzle games almost disappeared from blockbuster production, can help us understand the limited influence of the game in the decades after its release.

14:30-16:00 Session 5C: Local Community
Translating Witcher: Investigating Conflict and Cooperation Between Localization Industry and Gaming Communities

ABSTRACT. This paper investigates conflict and cooperation between gaming communities and the localization industry upon evidence from the discussion on and around the translation process of the acclaimed RPG series Witcher into Turkish. The Witcher case offers a telling example of fan poaching (Jenkins 1992), the conflict and cooperation between industry and fan translator communities, and fannish production- professional production. Investigating discussion around the “failure” of official localization, the “heroic” initiative by the non-professional translators following the netnographic analysis of fan comments in the Donanımhaber, a prominent technology forum of wide participation, forum The Witcher translation threads, user comments in-game media, Oyunceviri, a pivotal virtual community of non-professional translators, paratext pages dedicated to The Witcher games language patch releases, this paper aims to revisit “fan production” and “poaching” and “fan empowerment” on the Witcher’s survey in Turkish. So far, very little attention has been paid to fan–industry conflict - cooperation in game localization (Craig 2014; O’Hagan 2017), and this paper attempts to provide new insights into the fan-industry relationship through lenses on fan empowerment and novel forms of fan poaching (Jenkins 1992). This paper also attempts to broaden the perception of fan productivity, and further discuss fan participation and production in localization practices. This paper investigates conflict and cooperation between gaming communities and the localization industry upon evidence from the discussion on and around the translation process of the acclaimed RPG series Witcher into Turkish. The Witcher case offers a telling example of fan poaching (Jenkins 1992), the conflict and cooperation between industry and fan translator communities, and fannish production- professional production. Investigating discussion around the “failure” of official localization, the “heroic” initiative by the non-professional translators following the netnographic analysis of fan comments in the Donanımhaber, a prominent technology forum of wide participation, forum The Witcher translation threads, user comments in-game media, Oyunceviri, a pivotal virtual community of non-professional translators, paratext pages dedicated to The Witcher games language patch releases, this paper aims to revisit “fan production” and “poaching” and “fan empowerment” on the Witcher’s survey in Turkish. So far, very little attention has been paid to fan–industry conflict - cooperation in game localization (Craig 2014; O’Hagan 2017), and this paper attempts to provide new insights into the fan-industry relationship through lenses on fan empowerment and novel forms of fan poaching (Jenkins 1992). This paper also attempts to broaden the perception of fan productivity, and further discuss fan participation and production in localization practices.

Perceived Finnishess Amongst Four Player Groups Through UnReal World

ABSTRACT. UnReal World (Enormous Elk, 1992–), developed by Sami Maaranen and Erkka Lehmus, and first released in 1992, is a role-playing game set in Iron Age Finland. The game has been in active development for over three decades and is notable for its focus on realistic survival and simulating the year cycle.(Unrealworld.fi 2021) In UnReal World, there is no clear endpoint; the game continues until the player-controlled character dies or the player loses interest in the challenges offered. The game’s challenge emerges primarily from the game world and the various unexpected or predictable obstacles it presents. The long-term challenge in UnReal World is to survive through changing seasons; the short-term is to survive another day. As survival is the key element of the gameplay, UnReal World simulates food in the game with great accuracy. (Unrealworld.fi, n.d.) Like in real life, in-game characters can survive without food for longer than without water. Without food, the character can survive for approximately one month, while only a few days without water. Over 30 years, UnReal World has gained a dedicated player base who appreciate the game’s realistic survival elements and authentic representation of the Iron Age Finnish culture. The game mechanics are designed to be true to the historical period, and the creators have meticulously researched Finnish folk beliefs and culture to ensure accuracy in the game world. The developers go even as far as trying to replicate real-life techniques. Game designer Erkka Lehmus conducted a real-life experiment to test game mechanics’ accuracy and published them on his YouTube channel.(Lehmus 2017) UnReal World’s developers constantly interact with their players and strive for realism in the game. Our study focuses on the player base of UnReal World. The Finnish culture depicted in UnReal World is a representation of Finnishness by two Finnish designers. It reproduces established notions, such as hard and harsh life, combined with the Sisu attitude. This stereotype is commonly used in Finland, in commercials, for example. In Oululainen commercial, a child is trying to cut the bread with a small knife. His father is watching him, and when he fails the task, the father asks: “Are you hungry or not?”. The boys silently continue to cut the hard bread, and the commercial ends in the text. “Oululainen´s rye bread. Hard as life.”(Salmenperä 2010) The UnReal World, in a sense, represents these myths in its gameplay but is also generating new ones. Through qualitative interviews (Adams, Holman Jones, and Ellis 2015; Creswell and Creswell 2018; Creswell and Poth 2018), we aim to explore the concept of Finnishness represented in UnReal World. Our pre-interviews with the game developers revealed that players with Finnish heritage or Finns living abroad have found UnReal World to be a meaningful way to reconnect with their culture. Developers have received feedback that the game serves as a cultural bridge for these players, which will be an interesting aspect to explore further in our research. This feedback demonstrates that the UnReal World creates and recreates what Finnishness is. Our research interest lies in this cycle and how UnReal World’s interpretation of Finnishness is perceived through the eyes of Finns, Finns abroad, Finns of descent, and non-Finns. We are interested in understanding how different backgrounds affect the perception of the same concept. Although the Finnish culture of UnReal World is the same for all players, the way it is received may vary based on the player’s background. This study will provide insight into Finnishness both in UnReal World and outside the game and give the game’s creators a more detailed understanding of how their player base receives their design and mechanics. We have obtained permission from the game’s creators to use the game’s forums and Steam page to reach a diverse and comprehensive group of players. Our research goal is to understand how the

Making the Revolution Resonate: from La Conquista to El Generalissimo

ABSTRACT. Far Cry 6 is an open-world first person shooter set in Yara–a fictionalized version of Cuba. In the game, players take on the role of Dani, an orphan–playable as either male or female–who becomes a reluctant participant in a revolution when their friends get murdered by Yara’s dictator and his soldiers as they tried to escape to America. In a press release on the game, its narrative director declares that the game’s story is meant to be political– “a modern revolution” (Khavari, 2021). Yet similar to previous Ubisoft games, Far Cry 6 recycles orientalist tropes (Mukherjee 2021), portrays a colonialist outlook in its presentation of history (Shaw, 2015) and utilizes latinx stereotypes. In a lot of ways, the game’s 1950’s-era cars, dictatorships, rum, experimental drug-filled cigars, salsa music, colonial architectures and representations of cock-fighting feel more nostalgic of certain representations in older titles that try to simulate guerilla war in Cuba, from SNK’s Guerilla War to the Tropico series.

This paper seeks to expand existing literature on the Far Cry Series (Patterson 2016; Mukherjee 2021) and colonialism in games (Mukherjee 2017; Shaw 2015) by considering Far Cry 6 (Ubisoft, 2021) as a nexus of intersecting corporate media discourses about colonialism, latinx representation and the employment of latinx folks in game production processes. Far Cry 6 purports to provide transgressive representation of latinx cultures and Central American revolutionary themes, while it actually subordinates those themes to Western colonialist stereotypes, genre commitments for latin representation in blockbuster films, and the franchise conventions of the Far Cry series more broadly. Specifically, the game’s constitution of Latinness, as a socio-cultural signifier, relies on stereotypes about violent revolution, dictatorship, drug trafficking, popular latin music (in the American context), latin actors cast in prestige legacy media, and La Conquista. These themes are explored through industry events, trailers, developer presentations, and most importantly the core game itself.

Concretely, this presentation discusses the broader media representation of Latinx cultures, the specific representation Latinx culture in games, and its representation in Far Cry 6 with a focus on structural elements including the game’s topography, sound design, soundtrack, spoken dialogue, narrative, points of interest, character customization, non-player characters, minigames and the resulting interaction of these gameplay elements. We visualize this data in an array of thematic elements structured in a unit-system configuration, which shows the production of Latinness from a granular scale to a macro-level overview of the entire game. By focusing on the construction of culture in this context, games scholars will be able to examine how products of this economic and industrial-scale streamlined and then reconstitute entire national contexts for the voyeurist and colonial pleasures of Western audiences. In other words, what companies like Ubisoft produce are forms of diversity palatable to audiences external to the locale, overdetermined by economic strategy, and institutional conservatism.

14:30-16:00 Session 5D: Inclusivity and Accessibility
Social Acceptability of Location-based Games in Cemeteries

ABSTRACT. Based on survey of 1,053 Australian residents we examine the social acceptability of location-based games in the cemetery. Our findings suggest that their use in cemeteries should be carefully considered and prioritize sensitivity and respect for the deceased and their loved ones.

Improving Digital Accessibility Through Audio-Game Co-Design

ABSTRACT. Globally over 2.2 billion people are blind or visually impaired (World Health Organisation, 2022). Roughly half of these visual impairments cannot be prevented or addressed. Games are no longer just for fun, and as virtual environments often referred to as Metaverses and Meta-spaces continue to emerge, cyberspace is becoming increasingly spatial and important to everyday life. These virtual spaces do not afford tactile interaction. This presents an accessibility problem, particularly for visually impaired people, many of whom rely on haptic feedback to navigate the spatial environment of the real world. The games industry has a rich history of innovation in accessible virtual spaces, with games such as Sightlence (Nordvall, 2013), Papa Sangre (Somethin’ Else, 2010) and Blind Legend (Dowino, 2015) being exemplary of non-visual-first approaches. Games are excellent sandboxes for exploring virtual accessibility for people without a visual-first understanding. In this paper, we present an analysis of a workshop that engaged blind and visually impaired people in the first stage of a co-design process to develop a new audio-only game which will focus on spatial-audio (Frauenberger, Noistering, 2003) through generic low-end game hardware. The workshop was facilitated in collaboration with sight loss charities, with the objective of exploring how to create more inclusive virtual spaces from their conceptions (McElligott, Leeuwen, 2004). Through synthesis of these conversations, we bring to light a desire from blind and visually impaired people to include non-visual accessibility as a core consideration in the design of virtual space software and hardware to support the future of non-visual cyberspace access.

We Can Do It, Can We? Experiences of Women in the Czech Video Game Industry

ABSTRACT. Video game industry is still a male-dominated field. This fact does not stem only from the quantitative predominance of white heterosexual men, but also from the invisible barriers that impede the participation of other groups, who face obstacles that can delegitimize their choices and experiences and/or make the adopted path inhospitable. Therefore, this paper seeks to explore the feelings and opinions of women working specifically in the Czech games industry.

14:30-16:00 Session 5E: Ludic Liminality
The Womb as a Sphere of Biopolitical Liminality in Video Games

ABSTRACT. Biopolitical theories conceptualize the womb from various perspectives, though rather than focus on its space as such, they tend to incorporate it into the exploration of broader issues, such as mass-scale biopower (Foucault 1990), power and identity dynamics between the maternal organism and the fetus (Esposito 2011), subject integrity with regard to reproductive rights (Deutscher 2008), or patriarchal paradigm of technology (Braidotti 1994).

Two elements that most biopolitical conceptualizations of the womb have in common are: 1) the relatively unchallenged connection between it and the maternal subject, and 2) the relevance of the womb as a liminal sphere or a boundary between oppositions such as the outside vs. the inside, the seen vs. the unseen, qualified life vs. bare life, or self vs. other.

While biopolitics has so far found various applications in the realm of game studies – for instance with regard to the avatar (Apperley and Clemens 2016), death (Christiansen 2014), the player (Piero 2020, Lassila 2022), play (Rutherford and Bose 2013) or MMORPGs (Dyer-Witheford& de Peuter 2009) – the existent biopolitical approaches to video games do not seem to engage the womb concept on a large scale.

Themes revolving around corporeal maternity in video games have, in turn, been explored among others by Ewan Kirkland (2010), Sarah Stang (2019), John Vanderhoef and Matthew Thomas Payne (2018), and Dan Goad (2022) with regard to its horror potential and abjection; by Lauren Cruikshank (2015) with regard to pregnancy; or Amy M. Green (2022), who addresses the motif of the womb directly, but in the specific context of Death Stranding.

Therefore, in this presentation I intend to show that video games, as a medium intensely engaging visualizations of space, constitute a prolific and diversified environment for the analysis of biopolitical liminalities reflected by the womb, whether understood as an actual organ, visual symbol or conceptual metaphor.

Considering several exemplary games, such as Mass Effect 2 (2010), What Remains of Edith Finch (2017), Death Stranding (2019), Fantastic Fetus (2019), or Days Gone (2019), I argue for games’ visuality and mechanics not only to illustrate the versatility of the womb’s biopolitical significance, but also to expand it.

Firstly, I consider the liminality of the womb space in terms of shifts from potentiality to action, as well as shifts of agency between the player and the gameworld. Secondly, I explore the possibility for the video-game womb space to emancipate and function in separation from the discursive frameworks of pregnancy and maternity. The analysis is aimed to both consider the impact of the video-game medium on the biopolitical conceptualizations of the womb space and identify its theoretical productivity in the critical exploration of games’ aesthetic and spatial dimensions.


Apperley, T., and Clemens, J. 2016. "The Biopolitics of Gaming: Avatar-Player Self-Reflexivity in Assassin’s Creed II." In The Play Versus Story Divide in Game Studies: Critical Essays, edited by M. W. Kapell, 110–124. Jefferson, NC, USA: McFarland.

Bend Studio. 2019. Days Gone. Playstation 4. San Mateo, CA, USA: Sony Interactive Entertainment.

BioWare. 2010. Mass Effect 2. Microsoft Windows. Redwood City, CA, USA: Electronic Arts.

Braidotti, R. 1994. Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory. New York, NY, USA: Columbia University Press.

Christiansen, P. 2014. "Thanatogaming: Death, Videogames, and the Biopolitical State." Proceedings of DiGRA 2014: <Verb that ends in ‘ing’> the <noun> of Game <plural noun>, 1–17. Snowbird, UT, USA 3-6 August. http://www.digra.org/wp-content/uploads/digital-library/digra2014_submission_80.pdf

Cruikshank, L. 2015. "What to Expect When Your Avatar Is Expecting: Representations of Pregnancy and Parenthood in Video Games." In Natal Signs: Cultural Representations of Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting, edited by N. Burton, 19-40. Bradford, ON, Canada: Demeter Press.

Deutscher, P. 2008. "The Inversion of Exceptionality: Foucault, Agamben and ‘Reproductive Rights.’" The South Atlantic Quarterly. 107(1), 55-70.

Dyer-Witheford, N., and de Peuter, G. 2009. Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games. Minneapolis, MN, USA: University of Minnesota Press.

Esposito, R. 2011. Immunitas: The Protection and Negation of Life, translated by Z. Hanafi. Cambridge, UK, and Malden, MA, USA: Polity.

Feichtmeir, T,, "Cyangmou." 2019. Fantastic Fetus. HTML5. Thomas Feichtmeir "Cyangmou." https://cyangmou.itch.io/fantastic-fetus

Foucault, M. 1990. The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Volume 1, translated by R. Hurley. New York, NY, USA: Vintage Books.

Giant Sparrow. 2017. What Remains of Edith Finch. Microsoft Windows. West Hollywood, CA, USA: Annapurna Interactive.

Goad, D. 2022. "The Maiden, the Mother and the Monster: The Monstrous-Feminine in Classical Video Games." In Women in Classical Video Games, edited by J. Draycott and K. Cook, 61-74. London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Green, A. M. 2022. Longing, Ruin, and Connection in Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding. New York, NY, USA, and London, UK: Routledge.

Kirkland, E. 2010. "Maternal Engulfment in Horror Videogames." In Videogame Cultures and the Future of Interactive Entertainment, edited by D. Riha, 75-80. Freeland, UK: Inter-Disciplinary Press.

Kojima Productions. 2019. Death Stranding. Playstation 4. San Mateo, CA, USA: Sony Interactive Entertainment.

Lassila, E. M. 2022. "‘Free-’to-Play Game: Governing the Everyday Life of Digital Popular Culture." Critical Perspectives on Accounting. 87. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1045235422000193

Piero, M. 2020. "Gaming Under Biopolitical Sovereign Power: The Chronotope of the Abject in the The Binding of Isaac." Eludamos. Journal for Computer Game Culture. 11.1, 55–70.

Rutheford, S., and P. S. Bose. 2013. "Biopower and Play: Bodies, Spaces, and Nature in Digital Games." Aether: The Journal of Media Geography. 12.10, 1–29.

Stang, S. 2019. "The Broodmother as Monstrous-Feminine: Abject Maternity in Video Games." Nordlit. 42, 233-256.

Vanderhoef, J., and M. T. Payne. 2018. "Big Daddies and Monstrous Mommies: Bioshock’s Maternal Abjection, Absence and Annihilation." In Beyond the Sea: Navigating Bioshock, edited by F. Parker and J. Aldred, 50-73. Montreal and Kingston, Canada: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Xeno-Ludens: Deformativism and Playful Estrangement

ABSTRACT. In this extended abstract, we intend to delve into the relationship between the video game and deformative criticism, an experimental model of criticism that applies procedures and rules to cultural objects in order to generate emergent experiences in the analysis. Our intention is to reflect on the two perspectives of this relationship between deformative criticism and video games: on the one hand, the applicability of notions such as "deformation" or "deformance" to the field of video games; on the other hand, the understanding of how much deformative criticism and its proposal of a "parametric turn" in the digital humanities may be seen as videoludic.

Staying with the Glitch: the Queerness of Temporal Disruption in Animal Gameplay

ABSTRACT. The field of game studies is increasingly intersecting with animal studies to collectively scrutinize the technologically mediated human-animal play in digital games such as Duck Hunt (Nintendo 1984), Dog’s Life (Frontier Developments 2003), FarmVille (Zynga 2009), and Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo 2020). Regarding the consequences of video games that allow for an experience of inhabiting a nonhuman animal’s body (animal gameplay), many scholars are concerned with how this experience reinforces the sense of human mastery or control over the nonhuman animal (Cremin 2016) and buttresses the hegemony of play. This illusion of mastery, however, is and can be troubled by moments of temporal disruption, such as technical glitches. For the purpose of this research project, Whitney Pow’s (2021) explanation of a glitch–a momentary experience of undoing and unmending–is used to further elucidate the openings provided by these unexpected moments of temporal disruption during animal gameplay to rewrite the hegemony of play in which human exceptionalism reigns. As players are momentarily rendered outside of their domineering position within an avatar body that is nonhuman, queer possibilities emerge to challenge dominant anthropocentric perspectives.

14:30-16:00 Session 5F: Digital Literacies
A Systematic Literature Review of Teachers' Role in Using Game-Based Learning

ABSTRACT. One of the developing trends in education is the integration of digital game-based learning into teaching and learning in schools. This trend has been gaining momentum in many countries in Europe, Asia, the United States, and Israel (Author 1, & Other, 2020; Hsu et al., 2017; Boyle et al., 2016). Despite the growing interest in integrating digital games into teaching and learning, and the substantial resources and efforts invested by education systems worldwide, the results are slow to emerge, and only partial (Baek, 2008; Joyce et al., 2009; Koh et al., 2012). The literature mainly focuses on two aspects of the phenomenon – the games’ characteristics and the implementation processes – in which teachers are given a limited place. This review seeks to present the existing research on teachers’ role in integrating digital game-based learning into teaching and learning in schools, and proposes future research directions for professional development. Digital game-based learning (DGBL). In 2003, Prensky (2001) coined the term digital game-based learning, enabling students to acquire knowledge and learn through games, rather than games designed for entertainment and leisure purposes (Klopfer et al., 2009; Prensky, 2003). Digital game-based learning (referred to here as “digital games”) was designed to promote learning, acquire knowledge, and develop cognitive skills among students (Backlund & Hendrix, 2013; Girard et al., 2013). A review of articles published in leading journals in the education field from 2009 to 2020. The journals were selected according to the Q1 rating in SCImago Journal & Country Rank (SJR). A total of 2908 articles were found in 18 journals (see table 1), of which 308 articles referred to teachers in very general terms (e.g., teachers who appeared in the literature review, or were part of the research population). Only 16 articles were about teachers integrating digital games, which is the main focus of this analysis. Journal Name # Computers & Education 1 British Journal of Educational Technology 2 Education and Information Technologies 3 Educational Technology Research and Development 4 Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 5 Technology, Pedagogy and Education 6 Australasian Journal of Educational Technology 7 International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction 8 Journal of Research on Technology in Education 9 International Journal of Technology and Design Education 10 Journal of Educational Technology & Society 11 International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning 12 Education and Information Technologies 13 IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies 14 Learning, Media and Technology 16 International Journal of Human Computer Studies 17 Journal of Educational Computing Research 18 Table 1: Journals ranked Q1 in education associated with technology and computers. Content analysis of the 16 articles (see table 2) presents three main categories that the articles relate to, as indicated by their title and abstract: (1) the perceptions and experiences of teachers in the integration of digital games (n=7); (2) Practices for integrating digital games – how teachers integrate digital games in practice into their instruction (n=7); and (3) the professional development of teachers integrating digital games (n=4). Two articles were found to suit two categories, namely 1 and 2. Only 5% address teachers’ roles. Analysis of these issues by means of the professional skills of diagnosis, intervention, and inference (Abbott, 2014).

Articles reviewed # An, Y. (2018). The effects of an online professional development course on teachers’ perceptions, attitudes, self-efficacy, and behavioral intentions regarding digital game-based learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 66(6), 1505-1527. 1 Bourgonjon, J., De Grove, F., De Smet, C., Van Looy, J., Soetaert, R., & Valcke, M. (2013). Acceptance of game-based learning by secondary school teachers. Computers & Education, 67, 21-35. 2 Callaghan, M. N., Long, J. J., Van Es, E. A., Reich, S. M., & Rutherford, T. (2018). How teachers integrate a math computer game: Professional development use, teaching practices, and student achievement. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 34(1), 10-19. 3 Chee, Y. S., Mehrotra, S., & Ong, J. C. (2015). Authentic game-based learning and teachers’ dilemmas in reconstructing professional practice. Learning, Media and Technology, 40(4), 514-535. 4 Deng, L., Wu, S., Chen, Y., & Peng, Z. (2020). Digital game‐based learning in a Shanghai primary‐school mathematics class: A case study. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 36(5), 709-717. 5 Denham, A. R. (2019). Using the PCaRD digital game‐based learning model of instruction in the middle school mathematics classroom: A case study. British Journal of Educational Technology, 50(1), 415-427. 6 Eastwood, J. L., & Sadler, T. D. (2013). Teachers’ implementation of a game-based biotechnology curriculum. Computers & Education, 66, 11-24. 7 Hämäläinen, R., & Oksanen, K. (2014). Collaborative 3D learning games for future learning: Teachers’ instructional practices to enhance shared knowledge construction among students. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 23(1), 81-101. 8 Hsu, C. Y., Liang, J. C., & Tsai, M. J. (2020). Probing the structural relationships between teachers’ beliefs about game-based teaching and their perceptions of technological pedagogical and content knowledge of games. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 1-13. 9 Huizenga, J. C., Ten Dam, G. T. M., Voogt, J. M., & Admiraal, W. F. (2017). Teacher perceptions of the value of game-based learning in secondary education. Computers & Education, 110, 105-115. 10 Ketelhut, D. J., & Schifter, C. C. (2011). Teachers and game-based learning: Improving understanding of how to increase efficacy of adoption. Computers & Education, 56(2), 539-546. 11 Li, Q. (2012). Understanding enactivism: A study of affordances and constraints of engaging practicing teachers as digital game designers. Educational Technology Research and Development, 60(5), 785-806. 12 Li, Q. (2018). Enactivism and teacher instructional game building: An inquiry of theory adoption and design consideration. Educational Technology Research and Development, 66(6), 1339-1358. 13 Proctor, M. D., & Marks, Y. (2013). A survey of exemplar teachers’ perceptions, use, and access of computer-based games and technology for classroom instruction. Computers & Education, 62, 171-180. 14 Rowan, L. (2017). Teachers’ beliefs about the impact of games on the academic and social experiences of diverse and at-risk children in schools: a Deleuzian perspective. Learning, Media and Technology, 42(3), 295-307. 16 Table 2. The 16 articles that were reviewed Analysis of these issues by means of the professional skills of diagnosis, intervention, and inference, suggests future research directions focused on a combination of the three skills to combine digital games and teachers’ professional development.

Digital Literacy Games: a Systematic Literature Review

ABSTRACT. This paper presents the results of a systematic literature review of papers published on the topic of digital literacy games. With this study, we aim to provide a comprehensive summary of the results of a critical analysis on existing research of the intersection between digital literacy and game research including recommendations. We have analyzed a total of 63 papers published between the years 2005 and 2021 and stored in Scopus. The results of this literature review report on the digital literacy skills acquisition supported through the digital literacy games studied. It also provides an overview of strategies, in the form of game mechanics and dynamics, used in these games to train digital literacy skills. Furthermore, this paper provides a summary of the effects of digital literacy games reported in the papers analyzed.

A Post Structuralist Understanding of Integrating Games in Education

ABSTRACT. This work is a conceptual move towards theorising and researching games in educational environments under a post-structuralist light. Not only have terms such as game-based teaching, gamification, been misused in literature but also how these terms are realised by educators have become disparate from their acclaimed definitions in teaching practice. Therefore, this abstract, based on empirical research findings, brings into discussion the need to view games and learning as terms not in opposition, but rather identify the serious and fun aspects of each, realise them, and hence bring them meaningfully and contextually into the classroom.

14:30-16:00 Session 5G: Preserving Games
On the Preservation of the Experience of Play in an MMORPG Environment: Livestreams and the Game Preservation Conundrum

ABSTRACT. When it comes to online games, especially MMORPGs, the experience of playing is much more than the virtual space and in-game objects. Rather, the game is made by the thousands of online players interacting, working together, and communicating as they play. Currently, there is no one way to archive these games in a way that accurately reflects the player's experience. One proposed method is the archiving of livestream videos, as they contain videos of the player interaction in-game as well as real-life reactions to in-game events. Through qualitative interviews with game preservation experts, I determined the major challenges and agreements surrounding this proposed archiving method.

"Accidental Archivists": YouTube Gameplay Content and Game Preservation
PRESENTER: Michele Newman

ABSTRACT. This extended abstract details an ongoing project aimed at creating a taxonomy of gameplay content on the platform YouTube. It discusses the limitation of current modes of game preservation, highlights the variety of videos made by content creators, and briefly discusses how this work can help create a symbiotic relationship between institutions, fans, and fan-creators.

Preserving and Emulating Australian Made Videogames of the 1990s

ABSTRACT. This paper reflects on our experience disk imaging and emulating a selection of Australian videogames in the “Play It Again: Preserving Australian video game history of the 1990s” project. This three year project was funded by the Australian Research Council as a Linkage Project, in recognition of the fact that games have been a neglected area of screen history and that retaining continuing access to historic games requires concerted digital preservation efforts. In the project, we have sought to document, preserve, and exhibit the history of Australian made videogames of the 1990s. The preservation aspect of the project has two major parts. The first part is to create digital images from the physical media carrying the game software. The second part is using Emulation-as-a-Service Infrastructure (EaaSI) and other open-source emulators to make the games playable again. In this paper, we detail the successes, difficulties and limitations we have encountered in preserving and emulating the curated selection of 50 game titles.

The selected games were for several platforms – DOS, Windows 3.11, and Windows 98 PCs; Amiga; Nintendo Game Boy, Nintendo Entertainment System, and Super Nintendo; and Sega Saturn. The software was carried on 3.5 inch floppy disks, CD-ROMs, and cartridges – each requiring their own special tools to be digitized.

The [anonymized] Lab at [anonymized] University has gathered a variety of tools for making disk images, many of which are hobbyist creations. As such, though they work well, their availability and support are tenuous at best. Various troubles occur such as the hobbyist loses interest or electronic parts are no longer available to construct more tools, forcing a redesign. One of our Partner Organizations, [anonymized], has also been collecting digitization tools and building expertise, and we work together to digitize each other’s media and share the resulting images.

Using these images in emulators is the next step. Our project committed to using Emulation-as-a-Service Infrastructure (EaaSI), a project originating in Freiburg Germany, and developed by the Software Preservation Network and Yale University in the United States (SPN 2020). Among other things, this tool makes it possible to share configured environments of playable software with our partners, and also to make games playable in a browser on the open web (rights permitting) or in a museum intranet setting (Rechert et al. 2017).

There are currently some limitations to the EaaSI platform. Currently, EaaSI has DOS and Windows emulators, as well as one for the Nintendo Game Boy. It does not yet have emulators for the other consoles in our project. It also does not have an Amiga emulator yet. So we have turned to the lively world of hobbyist emulators to render the remaining titles. This, however, makes it more difficult to share these configured environments with our partners. The difficulty makes evident the great advantage of EaaSI, which skips over the complicated parts of choosing, installing, and learning how to use individual emulators, which carries a large learning curve. The addition of further emulators to EaaSI should resolve this problem in the future.

The final difficulty with emulating videogames of the 90s is the same problem PC gamers faced back then. Each game has different requirements for the configuration and performance of the PC, particularly sound cards and graphics cards, which now also require their own emulators. Not every graphic card is emulated yet, and it shows in the poor performance of particularly driving games. Other games were difficult to configure, such as the DOS game “The Dame Was Loaded” (1996), which has a lot of live action video. Troubleshooting using DOSBox and real vintage hardware has helped a lot with comparing and optimizing performance.

Rechert, Klaus, Thomas Liebetraut, Oleg Stobbe, Nathalie Lubetzki, and Tobias Steinke. 2017. “The RESTful EMiL: Integrating Emulation into Library Reading Rooms.” Alexandria: The Journal of National and International Library and Information Issues 27 (2): 120–36. SPN. 2020. “2021 Hosted Emulation Services Pilot Summary.” 2020. https://www.softwarepreservationnetwork.org/hosted-emulation-services-pilot-summary/.

14:30-16:00 Session 5H: Waiting for the World to End
Enjoyment in the Anthropocene: the Extimacy of Ecological Catastrophe in Donut County

ABSTRACT. This paper contends that videogames are the ideal medium through which to grasp the form that our unconscious enjoyment takes—and, if mobilized against self-destructive capitalism, the emancipatory form it could take—in the Anthropocene. Drawing on an analysis of the videogame Donut County (Esposito, 2018), it makes two psychoanalytic interventions in ecocritical theory. The first is that any theory of the climate crisis must account for the subject of the unconscious—not as a nature-dominating individual, but as a hole in material reality. The second is that any project for environmental sustainability must avow what Sigmund Freud (1961) would call the subject’s “death-driven” enjoyment rather than repress or avoid it.

New Old Worlds: Ecology in Planetary Colonization Games

ABSTRACT. Writing about video games’ engagement of the Anthropocene, Abraham and Jayemanne note “the relative paucity of videogame examples of climate change engagements” (77) but propose that the situation could be perceived as less hopeless if the definition of what such an engagement could be were to be expanded. Like other media, but perhaps more so because of their globalized digital distribution and the practical lack of limitations such as regional licensing, import fees, and diversified release schedules (that, for instance, film has had to contend with), games can effectively communicate “imaginaries […] between groups and generations” (Wagner and Gałuszka 2). Special place among the latter occupy “sociotechnical imaginaries”: “collectively imagined forms of social life and social order reflected in the design and fulfillment of nation-specific scientific and/or technological projects” (Jasanoff and Kim 120). Indeed, forms of interactive games (Salvini et al.) and simulations (Costanza et al.) have long been used to address environmental issues. Wagner and Gałuszka examine serious games, which have long addressed a range of politically-charged issues and problems, including climate crisis, but, needless to say, ecocritical readings are possible for a number of other game genres.

The presentation will examine planetary colonization games as a micro-genre privileged in the consideration of intersections between speculative video games and broadly understood environmental concerns, such as extractionism, sustainability, and biodegradation. Many titles in this category privilege action and strategic planning at the expense of complex narratives, which are often fairly generic, but it is this general narrative framework as well as their specific gameplay mechanics that are of consequence in the consideration of the Anthropocene. Players’ options and activities in these games often closely reflect the trajectory of the last five hundred years of Western history, allowing us to engage in the same processes as the colonial powers and industrial societies between the 1400s and now. Many of these games also bear resemblance to early accounts of American colonization; firstly, they assume the emptiness and free availability of land, water, and other resources, and secondly, they reflect the cultural parameters of the arriving colonizers. As media objects, these titles are clear narrative fantasies of a planetary reboot, informed by the desire to begin with a blank slate in a new place, with very few prerequisites, which is a configuration they share with post-apocalyptic stories.

Planetary colonization games are obviously not the only subgenre capable of engaging with notions of Anthropocenic change, but, to my mind, they helpfully bring into focus, by grace of their gameplay conventions, various aspects of the human-planet interaction. Moreover, if games are indeed different from other media with respect to their rhetorical power and, because of their performed and repetitive nature, hold a much higher argumentative charge (cf. Bogost), than games that engage the very types of activity that have brought about the Anthropocene strike me as prime spaces in which to reassess those practices that remain at the very core of the current planetary crisis. Writing about gamespaces in The PlayStation Dreamworld, Alfie Bown asserts that any “attempt at subversion needs to work inside this dreamspace – a powerful force in constructing our dreams and desires – or else the dreamworld will fall into the hands of the corporations and the state” (3). Thus, games focused on anthropogenic planetary transformations can become either hopeful sites of change, or serve as rhetorical tools shoring up the cognitive habits that brought about the Anthropocene. Thanks to the medium’s embodied cognition (Arjoranta), games may also enable a better understanding of the decisions that have brought civilization to the brink of collapse.

The general contention is that although the genre formula lends itself to the radical reimagination of the models of civilizational advancement, the majority of the titles reproduce developmental mechanisms that have led us to the climate crisis and thus seem very relevant—albeit as negative impressions—to our current historical moment. To demonstrate that, the presentation will first explain the micro-genre’s special status as a broader category of ecogames (Raessens), Gaia games (op de Beke), or climate games (Abraham and Jayemanne) and outline its contours. Then it will identify a number of shared mechanics and conventions that bear on environmental questions, briefly discussing Aven Colony as a paradigmatic text. This will lead to the assessment of the genre’s rhetorical tenor regarding ecology (cf. Darnov). Finally, it will briefly look at several titles that depart from the subgenre’s baseline, paying attention to how their narrative and procedural rhetoric can be harnessed in the service of raising the awareness of the current global condition.

Abraham, Benjamin, and Darshana Jayemanne. 2017. “Where Are All the Climate Change Games? Locating Digital Games’ Response to Climate Change.” Transformations, 30: 74–94. Arjoranta, Jonne. 2014. “Games & Embodied Cognition.” First Person Scholar. March 5, 2014. http://www.firstpersonscholar.com/games-and-embodied-cognition/. Beke, Laura op de. 2020. “Anthropocene Temporality in Gaia Games.” KronoScope 20 (2): 239–59. https://doi.org/10.1163/15685241-12341470. Bogost, Ian. 2010. Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Bown, Alfie. 2017. The PlayStation Dreamworld. Cambridge, UK: Polity. Costanza, Robert, Karim Chichakly, Virginia Dale, Steve Farber, David Finnigan, Kat Grigg, Scott Heckbert, et al. 2014. “Simulation Games That Integrate Research, Entertainment, and Learning around Ecosystem Services.” Ecosystem Services 10 (December): 195–201. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoser.2014.10.001. Darnov, Doron. 2020. “What Happens When Gamers Become (Digital) Geoengineers?” Edge Effects, June 23, 2020. https://edgeeffects.net/digital-terraforming/. Jasanoff, Sheila, and Sang-Hyun Kim. 2009. “Containing the Atom: Sociotechnical Imaginaries and Nuclear Power in the United States and South Korea.” Minerva 47 (2): 119. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11024-009-9124-4. Raessens, Joost. 2019. “Ecogames: Playing to Save the Planet.” In Cultural Sustainability: Perspectives from the Humanities and Social Sciences, edited by Torsten Meireis and Gabriele Rippl, 232–45. New York: Routledge. Salvini, G., A. van Paassen, A. Ligtenberg, G. C. Carrero, and A. K. Bregt. 2016. “A Role-Playing Game as a Tool to Facilitate Social Learning and Collective Action towards Climate Smart Agriculture: Lessons Learned from Apuí, Brazil.” Environmental Science & Policy 63 (September): 113–21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2016.05.016. Wagner, Aleksandra, and Damian Gałuszka. 2020. “Let’s Play the Future: Sociotechnical Imaginaries, and Energy Transitions in Serious Digital Games.” Energy Research & Social Science 70 (December): 101674. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2020.101674.

Ecology and the Post Apocalypse: Regenerative Play in the Metro Series

ABSTRACT. This paper aims to describe the Metro series (particularly Metro 2033 and Metro: Exodus) from an ecological point of view and scrutinizes the development of the series from images of enclosure (the narrow tunnels of Metro 2033 and dream-like imagery, its linear ideologies and factions, as well as the fear and mistrust of Otherness (Farca 2018, 283-316) to the conceptual openness of Metro: Exodus. Here, the characters are sent on a route towards a (potentially) utopian future, towards open spaces (to a degree still inhabited by linear, radical ideologies), and on a route away from militarism towards a space for families and a new beginning. The train, Aurora, thereby functions as a hub space and save haven for the characters from the outside world, but it also illustrates a means towards emancipation, towards a new dawn and utopian future. (we -- 2 --exclude Last Light, not because it is unimportant but rather because 2033 and Exodus are sufficient to illustrate and prove our hypotheses).

To do so, we will build on Farca et. al.’s concept of “regenerative play” as a possibility of play that includes forms of interaction with the game and its world that confronts players with ecological thematics (Farca et. al. 2018). In biology, “regeneration” refers to a process of “renewal, restoration, and growth that makes genomes, cells, organisms, and ecosystems resilient to natural fluctuations or events that cause disturbance or damage” (Wikipedia, emphasis mine). Of course, when dealing with fictional worlds such a metaphor cannot be taken explicitly but rather, as Zapf suggests, refers to the subversive potential of art itself. “Literary texts are sites of radical strangeness, alienation, and alterity, both in terms of aesthetic procedures of defamiliarization and of existential experiences of alienation and radical difference; and they are also simultaneously sites of reconnection, reintegration, and, at least potentially, of regeneration on psychic, social, and aesthetic levels. (Zapf, 12, emphasis mine; Lehner).

14:30-16:00 Session 5I: Personal Touch
Home Computing and Digital Game Piracy in the 1980s in Portugal

ABSTRACT. Historical narratives on the global digital games industry tend to neglect perspectives from the periphery. This paper contributes insights into the digital games piracy of the 1980s in Portugal, which was an integral part of early home computing culture as in other parts of the world. The paper is based on the content analysis of two Portuguese computing magazines, the publicly available interviews of two Portuguese game developers active in the 1980s, and the semi-structured interviews of Portuguese digital game collectors. We analyze the impact of digital games piracy and early computing on the development of the programming and computing skills of those who participated in this environment. We show how the Portuguese digital games pirate infrastructure fostered the creation and distribution of locally produced games.

Commercial, Hobbyist and In-between: Understanding the DAI Personal Computer Associative Game Library

ABSTRACT. This paper aims to understand how the ecosystem of video games published in the 1980s on the Belgian machine “DAI Personal Computer” should be understood, through the examination of the general history of the machine and how it was supported mainly by clubs and the content of their magazines. By analyzing significant cases of video games, I propose the notion of associative video game.

Podcasts and Players – Examining the Careers of Gaming Podcast Creators

ABSTRACT. This presentation will shed light on the often understudied industry of gaming podcasts. Building on ongoing research involving interviews with creators, it will highlight the similarities and differences in the production and business strategies of the shows when compared to other gaming content creation fields.

14:30-16:00 Session 5J: Teamwork Spaces
Evaluating Teamwork in a Game Development Team: Observations from Attending a "Sprint Retrospective"

ABSTRACT. This paper details preliminary qualitative research into collaborative work on game development teams. It considers one empirical example from a case study in which a single professional game team evaluate their teamwork. The research question is as follows: How do the developers engage with each other for discussing shared problems within the team? The object of analysis is the interplay of communication during the exercise. More specifically, the paper relates the group interactions with the team’s formulated problems to analyse the effect of having multiple viewpoints inform discussion.

The case study was conducted by the author of this paper with an 8-person team at an established indie game company in Copenhagen, Denmark. The field work lasted 10 weeks from January 31st to April 8th 2022 as part of the author's thesis project.

Overall, the paper contributes a context-dependent description of team coordination in which developers distinguish conflicts and priorities with each other as part of an exercise. The paper suggests the team were able to collaborate from expressing, exploring, and exchanging perspectives to set priorities with each other.

Developer Dialogues: a Study of Videogame Creators to Understand the Potential for Industry Self-Regulation of Monetization

ABSTRACT. This extended abstract explores the attitudes and practices of videogame creators with regard to the monetization and self-regulation of their work. We perform in-depth interviews supplemented by ethnographic fieldwork in which we participate in industry events.

Australian Video Game Developers' Marketing Knowledge: Filling an Important Research Gap

ABSTRACT. There has been a research focus on the production of video games in smaller studios and national video game industries including Australia (Banks and Cunningham, 2016; Keogh, 2021), Germany (Wimmer and Sitnikova, 2012), Norway (Jørgensen, 2019; Jørgensen, Sandqvist and Sotamaa, 2017), Sweden (Jørgensen, Sandqvist and Sotamaa, 2017) and Finland (Jørgensen, Sandqvist and Sotamaa, 2017; Sotamaa, 2021). However, there has been little exploration of the business aspects of video game production, such as marketing activities and knowledge. In general, it is acknowledged the video game industry worldwide lacks mature business, management, and marketing knowledge (Kerr, 2017). However, given the lack of research into the business and marketing aspects of video game production, the actual skills, knowledge, and practices of smaller video game developers remains under researched. If there is indeed a lack of sophisticated knowledge, this is problematic for developers given the crowded video game marketplace. There are over 50,000 games available on Steam with up to 10,000 more added each year (Bailey, 2021). Developers need to market their games effectively to ensure they stand out, which makes marketing a pivotal and core skill for developers who wish to earn a living from their games (Kerr, 2017; Zackariasson and Dymek, 2016). Given the importance of marketing activities, and the lack of research into marketing knowledge within the video game industry, semi-structured interviews conducted with eight small video game developers based in Victoria, Australia. The Victorian games industry is the most developed in Australia and home to over 50% of the country’s developers (IGEA, 2021), so the state represents the most sophisticated understanding of video game business and production. An Australian-specific context is also appropriate because examining local and regional contexts of video game production provides understandings for global Game Studies and production (Kerr, 2017; Sotamaa 2021). Qualitative semi-structured interviews were utilized to capture the rich experiences of video game developers (Patton, 2002; van de Weerd et al., 2016). All of the developers were working to publish video games, derive revenue from their creation, and had between one and ten staff members. Interviews commenced with a grand tour question and asked about developer’s current situation, rather than being focused on a deficit of skills. The coding was an iterative and continuous process, and interviews and themes were returned to and re-examined to refine codes and themes as the analysis progressed (McCosker et al., 2004). The analysis involved the phenomenographic approach as it involved iterative familiarization, analysis, and interpretations to consider collective meaning (Åkerlind, 2012; McCosker et al., 2004). The software program, NVivo, was used to aid the traditional human interpretative coding approach (Arvidsson and Caliandro, 2016). All of the developers agreed that marketing was an important activity and skill if a developer wanted to make a living from their game design given the competitive nature of the industry. For example, one noted that ‘with the amount of games, especially on mobile, that come out every day, if you don't do any marketing, you're not going to be seen’. However, despite acknowledging the importance of marketing, the developers found it challenging and they did not always engage in more advanced marketing activities such as brand management and evaluation. Three video game developers either were not thinking about their brand or had only just started thinking about their brand. As one admitted: ‘it's something I'm definitely starting to think about a lot more. But I was only sort of recently made aware of.’ Six developers were actively considering the reputation of their studio and games, the kind of values they wanted to embed, and how they wanted audiences to think about them. However, two developers that were actively working on their brand management equated this to focusing on just logo design. Furthermore, only three developers were actively using analytics and statistics in their marketing evaluation to enhance their marketing activities. For example, one developer said that they ‘sort of half monitor them, but we don't really get many people talking about us. And so I'm not watching them super closely.’ This is despite three developers being disappointed with their marketing results and five developers noting they did not feel they knew which marketing activities were going to be effective. Their marketing was more ad hoc and based on feel. Developers were thus only undertaking a half-way approach to evaluation and not using or being informed by all of the tools and data at their disposal. This is not surprising because six developers did not have anyone specializing in marketing in their studios, and the two that did both had a marketing background. Four developers were upskilling their marketing, but it was informal such as reading news articles or talking to industry contacts. The results found uneven marketing activities within the Victorian industry. Developers were attempting to manage their brands and evaluation processes but were limited by their knowledge and the ability to upskill. Some developers were engaging in sophisticated marketing, but this was because they happened to come from a marketing background. This pilot study has begun to fill a research gap concerning the business, specifically marketing, aspects of video game production. It has highlighted that, while there is a general understanding of the importance of marketing, there appears to be a lack of sophisticated marketing knowledge within the industry.

14:30-16:00 Session 5K: Game Worlds
Game Worlds at the Limits and Margins of Games

ABSTRACT. Imagine a chain of events that leads from playing fetch with a rottweiler in Grand Theft Auto V (GTA5, Rockstar North 2013) near the character Franklin’s house which ends up in a couple of passersby drowning while their poodle gets killed by the rottweiler. This paper argues that this chain of events is neither satisfyingly described in terms of ludology or in narrative terms nor in terms of existential ludology as it currently exists. We argue, that in order to describe this situation properly that it is fruitful to understand computer games not only as games, but also as worlds. A sensible reading of the fetch anecdote is somewhere in between: computer games have their particular technological specificity, which cannot be captured by referring to them as a new kind of literature, new kind of cinema, or new kind of interactive media. Markku Eskelinen observed, in the first issue of Game Studies journal, that “if and when games and especially computer games are studied and theorized they are almost without exception colonised from the fields of literary, theatre, drama and film studies. Games are seen as interactive narratives, procedural stories or remediated cinema” (Eskelinen 2001). Warning calls were heard, to protect computer games from being “colonized” (Eskelinen 2001; Aarseth 2001) by outside concepts like narrativity, storytelling, etc. In this situation, drawing the analogy from computer games to traditional “games” was a savvy move in terms of disciplinary politics: it allowed fending off the theoretical conservatives wielding considerable power through their established institutions like Literary, Film, and Media Studies departments by connecting the new phenomenon of computer games with something at least as, if not even more primal and fundamental to human cultures than storytelling: games and play (Huizinga 1998). Undeniably, playing a computer game often feels like playing a game, and, when thinking about how a computer game works, words like “rules”, “goals” and “challenges” are often useful. Ludology, as it stands, succeeds in drawing our attention to how the players’ experiences with computer games retain many of the qualities associated with the experience of game-playing, and how computer games appear to exhibit many of the qualities associated with games. However, it is obvious that the analogy to traditional games is not without problems: as computer games evolve along with other forms of contemporary media, they move further and further away from their alleged roots in traditional games: there are more and more computer games which “do not seem possible except in this digital medium" (Tavinor 2009, 21; see also Egenfeldt-Nielsen, Smith, and Tosca 2020, 2–3). Mancala can be played with found materials like goat droppings and sand, but using these for Half-Life (Valve 1998) would prove to be impossible (Leino 2009b). Hence, it does not come as a surprise that many scholars have questioned the analogy which ludology drew between computer games and traditional games. For example, Kirkpatrick (2007, 89) noted that computer games are always “more than it seems”, and compared them to, among other things, modern dance, whereas Woods (2007) paralleled computer game -playing with mountain-climbing and Galloway (2006) framed them as a form of “algorithmic culture”. However, it is important to note that questioning the viability of the analogy between computer games and traditional games does not imply disregarding the technological specificity of computer games, but quite the opposite. Computer games are of course more than algorithmic culture, modern dance, mountain-climbing, and games. Taking these paradigms to understand computer games would be to ignore what makes computer games what they are. While one may be of two minds regarding the applicability of the notion of ‘colonising’ in an interdisciplinary context, there is something to be sympathetic of in the idea of not forcing an ill-fitting description on computer games, and staying attuned to the material and experiential specificities of the phenomenon under study. As exemplified by the anecdote about GTA5, characteristic to the kind of games enabled by digital media (Tavinor 2009, 21) is the ever-increasing richness of their worlds, not just in terms of “semiotic” but also “mechanic” elements (e.g. Aarseth 2011). This increasing richness does not, however, necessarily translate to more complexity in “gameness”. Reminiscent of Atkins’ (2006, 133) observations regarding Wipeout Pure (Studio Liverpool 2005), much of the gameplay in GTA5, for example, follows the logic seen already in Grand Theft Auto (Rockstar Games 1997). Thus, it seems worthwhile investigating whether the technological specificity of computer games could be captured by accounting not only for their “gameness”, but also for their “worldness”. In this chapter, by drawing on existential philosophy, game studies, and recent work in the philosophy of computer games (Payne 2009; Rusch 2009; 2017; Leino 2009b; 2009a; 2010; 2012; 2013; 2014; Möring 2013; 2014; Möring and Leino 2016; Kania 2015; 2017; Gualeni and Vella 2020; Vella 2021), we critique the current program of existential ludology, the term coined by Payne (2009) and put it forward as method for understanding computer game play, more specifically, play in the worlds of computer games. First, we describe three aspects of ludology, which are problematic in terms of how they frame computer games as objects of study. To broaden the picture of computer games, by highlighting the existential basis of play and games as understood in classical play theory, we propose to look at computer games through the lens of existentialism. This allows reconciling the idea of gameness with the materiality of computer games, and leads us consider computer games as worlds. With the notion of game world, we will explicate several different modes of being in computer games, and argue that playing-in-the-game-world is one way of being in computer games although not the most common one. We conclude by presenting how our method sheds new light on the ontology, hermeneutics, and criticism of computer games and the politics of play, helping to preserve play which has long disappeared from computer games.

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Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. Studio Liverpool. 2005. Wipeout Pure. [PlayStation Portable]. Sony Computer Entertainment. Tavinor, Grant. 2009. The Art of Videogames. Malden MA: Wiley-Blackwell. Valve. 1998. Half-Life. [Microsoft Windows; PlayStation 2; OS X; Linux]. Bellevue, WA: Sierra Studios. Vella, Daniel. 2021. “Beyond Agency: Games as the Aesthetics of Being.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, July, 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1080/00948705.2021.1952880. Woods, Stewart. 2007. “Playing With An Other: Ethics in the Magic Circle.” Cybertext Yearbook 2007: Ludology. http://cybertext.hum.jyu.fi/articles/90.pdf.

On Being Stuck in Sid Meier's Civilization: the Promise of Freedom in Historical Games

ABSTRACT. In this paper we investigate a fundamental tension in historical games: how they promise to let us experience the past as a playground while at the same time not offering the freedoms to radically explore and experiment with it. Historical games, for all their simulative and immersive power, are still rather stuck in specific forms of past-play. To investigate these borders, and what could lie beyond, we will employ a new political theory of the past, vested in archaeological and anthropological scholarship, as developed by Graeber and Wengrow in their book The Dawn of Everything: A New history of Humanity. In particular, we will use their ideas about fundamental freedoms to analyse how and to what extent processes and moments of radical historical change can be experienced in games. We will do so by focusing on the popular and influential game series Sid Meier’s Civilization.

Toward an Agential Realist Account of Digital Games: Revisiting Gamic Agency and Materiality

ABSTRACT. This paper brings together discussions of agency in game studies and posthuman research to propose a radical rethinking of agency and agential enactment in digital games. Game scholars often approach agency in the traditional humanist manner which associates agency in games with the player’s intentionality, subjectivity, and freedom. While they provide important insights on how we can interpret games and make sense of our in-game actions, the liberal human-centered ideas underpinning may not fully account for the highly technologically mediated and transversally related ‘posthuman subjects’ we have become today. Drawing from Barad’s agential realism and Braidotti’s affirmative ethics, this paper proposes to rethink digital game players as posthuman subjects, and digital gameplay as a series of intra-acting practices through which the agencies of players and games are enacted and reconfigured.

16:00-16:30Coffee Break
16:30-18:30 Session 6A: Panel: Gaming Disorder Around the World: Overview of Current Situation in 19 Countries
PANEL: Gaming Disorder Around the World: Overview Through Six Continents

ABSTRACT. This panel focuses on gaming disorder and how it is currently viewed around the world. With 15 short presentations from 6 continents, we introduce the current situation on how gaming disorder is viewed, treated and accepted in a variety of countries, cultures and places.

16:30-18:00 Session 6B: Livestreaming Communities
Super Memory Makers: Livestreaming and/as Videogame Play Archives

ABSTRACT. Using Super Mario Maker (Nintendo EAD 2015; SMM hereafter) as its example, this paper appraises the “incidental archives” (Manning 2017) of gameplay produced by livestreamers. Similar to other “high-performance play” (Lowood 2006) contexts such as speedrunning, many of the feats performed by the most popular SMM streamers are unparalleled in terms of their virtuosic skills and technical achievements. The extent to which these performances document and reveal the inner workings of a game system—its affordances and capabilities—are certainly worth noting (Newman 2011; 2012a). However, the prevalence of such content has a hegemonic effect (Fron et al. 2007). Their popularity and prolific nature combined with the popularity of video sharing platforms such as YouTube and Niconico risk eliding evidence of other play styles and especially the more autotelic forms of play that SMM engenders. The result: a distorted historical record of what playing SMM actually looks like.

A Historical Perspective on Speedrunning: Evolution and Impact of the Informational Aspect upon Speedrunning Communities

ABSTRACT. This presentation will focus on a historical perspective on speedrunning, a practice that consists of completing a video game as fast as a player can. The practice went into an important change of paradigm in the 90s. At first, a performance was an information transcribed into a document such as magazines. Then, speedrunners started to share their runs thanks to digital technologies including the web, and a performance became a document like a demo file from the 90s DOOM games or simply a video. Nowadays, modern artifacts such as Twitch or Discord are exploited by speedrunners for producing and sharing information through different mediums (YouTube videos, Google Drive, private messages, etc.). Finally, I argue that the informational aspect of the practice – such as producting and sharing information – is the very heart of any speedrunning community.

16:30-18:00 Session 6C: Horror Reawoken
The Magic Prison: Game Rules as a Tool for Dread in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Inscryption

ABSTRACT. The late 14th-century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Anderson 1996) and Daniel Mullins Games’ recent roguelike deck-building digital game Inscryption (2021) have in common the narrative frame of a game. In this paper, we examine these as examples of the very concept of the ‘magic circle’ of games being used to evoke dread, horror or uncanniness. In both examples, the protagonists are trapped within a game and forced to play. Crucially, the rules of these games are enforced and adhered to strictly by the antagonists, even though in their roles as game masters they could easily tip the scales in their favour. We explore the implications that these examples have on conceptions of the magic circle and how the conventions of games can become the focus for a specific type of horror or dread.

"Our Player Friend Here... They Already Hold the Key...": Redefining Genre Limits in Inscryption

ABSTRACT. As games become increasingly complex year after year, it is not surprising to see games blend genres of play in order to push the limits as currently defined by genre conventions. It is, however, not as common – though not unheard of – to see games blend media genres, such as interactive fiction, YouTube videos, and will intentionally ‘break the fourth wall’ to enforce a layer of meta-interactivity. Inscryption (Daniel Mullins Games 2020) is one of these games that intentionally pushes the limits of the multiple genres, creating a larger puzzle that expands outside of the game and adds to a larger gaming universe across the games by the same developer. While the game is a stand-alone narrative, there are several hints and genre-bending activities that have spawned many theories and amplified the fanbase’s sense of a communal scavenger hunt to discover the current – and potential future – overall lore. Not unlike other ground-breaking multimedia works like House of Leaves, Inscryption relies on the remediation of the genres it implements: by adjusting the expectations of both the deck-builder and the escape room genres to create an eerie cross between the two with very real in-game consequences for each action taken, coupled with the interactive fiction elements of discovering lost footage in-between the different Acts of the game, Inscryption accomplishes much of what Katherine Hayle (2002) indicates is accomplished by House of Leaves: “it recuperates the vitality of the novel as a genre by recovering, through the processes of remediation, subjectivities coherent enough to become the foci of the sustained narration that remains the hallmark of the print novel” (781). Inscryption creates an expansive narrative that spans beyond the limits of the game itself. While this game has made quite the impact on the larger gaming community, as indicated by the numerous accolades and generally positive reception (Mahardy 2021; Kerr 2022), it has received little scholarly attention. As the game’s narrative alone makes it compelling for analysis, this paper seeks to analyse its use of intermediality and genre-blending, through an ontological approach, to categorize and synthesize where and how its lore is established and extended beyond the limits of the in-game universe. In doing so, this paper will rely heavily on the research of intermediality on the genre-defying book House of Leaves, as the over all narrative is communicated through remediation and due to its impact on print media and will at times draw comparisons to predecessor horror games like Eternal Darkness (Silicon Knights 2002) that implemented fourth-wall breaking in a similar fashion. As there has been little in terms of a scholarly discussion of this game, this paper will also rely on what other scholars have discussed about previous titles by the same developer, specifically Pony Island (2016). This paper begins with a literature review that defines the term genre-blending and media-blending within the context of video games, and moves into the creation of a contextual framework of what is intermediality and remediation, using House of Leaves as an anchor for analysis. The paper then moves into an overview of the gameplay and mechanics used within Inscryption that adhere to the principles of intermediality and remediation as set by the House of Leaves framework. With the parameters for analysis set in place, this paper will then focus on categorizing and synthesizing the mechanics and gameplay elements in terms of what is immediately present, what is initially hidden or made more clear upon multiple playthroughs, and what is hidden deep within the game’s code, in order to analyse and interpret their impact on the overall narrative and lore. This paper proposes that the remediation and intermediality of the game creates a lasting impact that reveals the true ‘horror’ of the game, and establishes a much more complex story than what is initially apparent upon completing the game. Further, due to its genre-blending, the game relies on communal pathfinding (or, at the very least, going beyond the limitations of the gameplay and into the game’s code or by passively interacting with the fanbase online) to discover its true narrative.

Disenchanted Re-Enchantment: Comparative Analysis of World of Darkness and Monsterhearts Tabletop RPGs

ABSTRACT. My presentation is dedicated to a comparative analysis of two urban fantasy tabletop role-playing games: classical World of Darkness and Monsterhearts, using the concepts of disenchantment (Weber 1993) and re-enchantment. Disenchantment, as understood by Charles Taylor (2007), is part of wider process of secularization, the transformation of a unified cosmos into a mechanized universe consisting of discrete elements, as well as a shift of human identity from porous, open and vulnerable to a world of spirits and forces, to modern and closed-off “buffered self”. In turn, re-enchantment (Saler 2012) implies that Western people try to re-enchant their world through different cultural practices, like the creation and interaction with enchanted secondary worlds, for example, in tabletop role-playing games. The perception of TRPG as a re-enchanting practice became widespread among game scholars in recent years (e. g. Schrier et al 2018). However, I would like to address the contradictory relationship between this media and enchantment. TRPGs constantly use pre-modern images and narratives for their fictional universes, but they often build these universes around modern logic, creating disenchanted worlds, despite the presence of particular imagery associated with enchantment, like magic or gods. This unintentionally naturalizes the modern and secular worldview as universal and timeless, reducing differences between ages and cultures to the amount of information about the world. It is important to highlight that in my presentation I do not address the possibility of TRPG to cause the feeling of enchantment in the players themselves, and focus on the ability to create a simulation (Frasca 2003) of an enchanted world, providing the possibility to imagine logics and worldviews different from that of modernity. I understand a TRPG as a type of protostory (Koenitz 2018), a hypothetical set of all stories made possible by a particular set of rules contained in one or more rulebooks. Specific stories, like particular game sessions, are created from the protostory through the process of instantiation, which consists of perceiving and realizing affordances (Linderoth 2011) presented by the game, possibilities available for players to take actions pertaining to in-game situations. I divide affordances into two big groups: interpretative and active. Interpretative affordances denote a potential for the player to perceive in-game situations in a specific way – for example, viewing a particular NPC as “evil”, interpreting their own character as a “hero” or recognizing intertextual references to popular franchises. This type of affordances is closely associated with the idea of resonance: the sensation of interpreting a representation of the game as relating to something other than only the game’s rules, as referring to something not entirely contained within the game itself and of the everyday world in which we live (Chapman 2016). Active affordances denote “objective” affordances to take in-game actions, like attacking an antagonist or using a supernatural power. Both types of affordances constantly influence and shape one another, often creating a configurative resonance (Apperley 2010), a situation when resonance is caused by the results of players’ efforts. Using those instruments, I compare the approach to enchantment in World of Darkness and Monsterhearts. The genre of urban fantasy itself calls to mind the idea of re-enchantment, especially in case of WoD which consistently connects supernatural creatures with fundamental modern topics like ecological crisis (Werewolf: the Apocalypse), inequality (Vampire the Masquerade and Wraith: the Oblivion) or disenchantment itself (Mage: the Ascension and Changeling: the Dreaming). This provides a willing troupe of players with affordances to create a story addressing those themes. But at the same time, the logic of the rules and worldbuilding itself strongly favors the interpretation of the game world, including its supernatural component, as a disenchanted realm. Halloy and Servais (2014) highlighted the following features of the experience of enchantment: Ontological uncertainty as to the entities involved and the experience itself; Uncanny feelings; An attentional focus on inner bodily and mental states; Dissociative and hypnoid states; A shift in perceived agency. While there are many affordances in the WoD protostory to create a situation resonating with those features, there are much fewer affordances to interpret them as a natural part of the world and not problems or exceptions. WtA, VtM and WtO constantly address the problem of agency, but with a clearly modern preference for retaining individual agency in the hands of an individual and protecting borders of the psyche. Clear classification of different supernatural creatures transform possible ontological uncertainty of perceived entities into simple lack of knowledge. This lack of knowledge, in turn, can and should be rectified with the help of player’s and character’s knowledge and supernatural powers that can provide a definite answer about the nature of a particular entity. Therefore, the game provides very little incentive for participants to role-play the reaction to encountering supernatural creatures as “uncanny feelings”. In contrast, secondary worlds of Monsterhearts provide much more affordances for interpreting them as enchanted. They lack any clear ontology that players can use, instead hinting at multitude of myths and tropes that can be invoked by players and their characters as part of the game with neither tools to prove one interpretation as true nor guarantee that truth is out there at all. Some character variants, like Queen, Chosen or Cerberus, collapse the fundamental difference between human and supernatural altogether. Game often addresses the problem of agency through mechanics of Strings, but does so in a way that questions and even criticizes the understanding of the subject as “buffered self” that should protect its borders at any cost. All of this provides players with a lot of affordances to introduce uncanny feelings in the game world, both as something experienced by their characters or as something caused by them, and connects the Monsterhearts with a wider tradition of re-enchanted secondary worlds. The case of Monsterhearts is particularly important, because it illustrates that problems with simulating an enchanted world in TRPGs stems from the traditional, but not inescapable, approach of this type of game to rules and world-building. Therefore, it can be overcome or, at least expanded upon, in order to make TRPGs a better tool to increase cultural literacy.


Apperley, T. 2010. Gaming Rhythms: Play and Counterplay from the Situated to the Global. Amsterdam, Netherland: Institute of Network Cultures. Chapman, A. 2016. Digital Games as history: How videogames represent the past and give access to historical practice. NY, USA: Routledge,. Frasca, G. 2003. Simulation Versus Narrative: Introduction to Ludology. In The Video game Theory Reader 2: 221-236. London, UK: Routledge. Halloy, A. and Servais, V. 2014. Enchanting Gods and Dolphins: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Uncanny Encounters. Ethos 42 (10). 479-504. Koenitz, H. 2018. Narrative in Video Games. In Encyclopedia of Computer Graphics and Games edited by Lee, N. 1-9. Berlin, Germany: Springer. Linderoth, J. 2011. Beyond the digital divide: an ecological approach to gameplay. In DiGRA ’11: Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play. http://www.digra.org/digital-library/forums/6-think-design-play/ Saler, M. 2012. As If: Modern Enchantment and the Literary Prehistory of Virtual Reality. NY, USA: Oxford University Press. Schrier, K., Torner, E. and Hammer, J. 2018. Worldbuilding in Role-Playing Games, in Role-Playing Game Studies edited by Zagal, J. and Deterding, S. 349-363. NY, USA: Routledge. Taylor, C. 2007. A Secular Age. Cambridge, USA: Harvard University Press. Weber, M. 1993. Sociology of Religion. Boston, USA: Beacon Press.

Ludography White Wolf. 1996. Wraith: The Oblivion, 2nd Edition. Stone Mountain, Georgia, USA: White Wolf Publishing White Wolf. 1997. Changeling: The Dreaming, 2nd edition. Stone Mountain, Georgia, USA: White Wolf Publishing White Wolf. 1998. Vampire: The Masquerade Revised Edition. Stone Mountain, Georgia, USA: White Wolf Publishing White Wolf. 2000. Werewolf: The Apocalypse Revised Edition. Stone Mountain, Georgia, USA: White Wolf Publishing White Wolf. 2000. Mage: The Ascension, Revised Edition. Stone Mountain, Georgia, USA: White Wolf Publishing Alder, A. 2017. Monsterhearts 2. USA: Buried Without Ceremony

16:30-18:00 Session 6D: Single/Multiplayer
Enacted Sociality in Single-Player Play

ABSTRACT. Inherent sociality is arguably true in the sense of sociality in game-play expressing forms of identity. Yet the establishment and development of sociality itself with and within single-player games remains somewhat unlit empirically. The activity of play with single-player games is not an inherently person to person act, and as such does not necessarily require a sociality defined by inter-relational aspects. In this qualitative study video elicited interviews using the participants’ own gameplay footage were conducted with five players, all playing the game Dragon Age: Origins for the first time. The aim was to explore players’ social behavior and potential development in sociality within play with the game. The study finds, that development of sociality rests on the player’s path in navigating moral dilemmas in coherence with their own ethical conviction, along with a strong sense of worldness that erases the digital nature of the interaction. The findings lead to the new term “enacted sociality”, which represents the impetus of action that games present in conjunction with social processing. Enactment of sociality is based on the integration between the external material, social and cultural environment, and internal psychological processes of elaboration. The elaboration within the play activity being the incorporation of both personal and game related memories, and processing of cognitive and emotional aspects of the game situation at hand within a state of play.

Individualized Communal Experience: Players of Detroit: Become Human

ABSTRACT. Digital interactive narratives are co-constructed by game narrative designers and players. In this paper, I apply mixed methods to the study of the reception of Quantic Dream’s Detroit: Become Human. I ask: Which factors contribute to immersion and drive choice-making in a branching narrative? Which elements affect the replay value? I show that interactive fiction promotes high immersion through players’ agency. Digital interactive fiction also allows for a seemingly paradoxical individualized communal experience leading to replay to explore the different narrative paths. It also promotes biased empathy for the different protagonists.

From Superhuman to Posthuman: Collective Action in Single-Player Video Games

ABSTRACT. This extended abstract looks at representations of collective action and social change in single-player video games.

16:30-18:00 Session 6E: Postanthropocene
Building and Rebuilding the Anthropocene in Cities: Skylines

ABSTRACT. I examine the city-building game Cities: Skylines (Colossal Order 2015) as part of an ongoing ecocritical project, arguing that the city-building genre is uniquely positioned to demonstrate the forms of power working to create perilous futures through our present climate crisis. I consider how, in its replication of circuits of real-world ecological power and constraint of speculative futures, Cities: Skylines demonstrates both the opportunities for and limits to the meaningful critique of contemporary power within games.

Saving the Planet One Game at a Time

ABSTRACT. Several scholars suggest that games offer playful ways to think about environmental problems and their solutions. Drawing on postcolonial and decolonial studies, environmental humanities, ecofeminism, and ecogames studies, this paper explores some of the ways in which games can theoretically raise awareness of the ecological crisis and of the need for a quick paradigm shift. It also identifies game elements that theoretically risk reinforcing false beliefs about climate change, masking its root causes, perpetuating the outdated nature-culture dualism, or feeding a blind faith in technological solutions.

Two Approaches to Solving the Climate Crisis: Comparing Half-Earth Socialism and the Climate Game

ABSTRACT. Half-Earth Socialism and The Climate Game are both games about solving the climate crisis. I compare the two games and analyse their procedural rhetoric through close playing them.

16:30-18:00 Session 6F: Owning Ludic Histories
Learning Cultural Heritage Through Emergent in-Game Dialogues

ABSTRACT. Serious games, commonly known as games with the primary purpose of education or problem-solving, are a unique interactive media approach that contributes to the digitalization and preservation of cultural heritage, such as artworks, historical sites, traditions, and rituals. Ideally, serious games can provide both fun and interactive experiences to engage players in acquiring knowledge of cultural heritage. However, many of these serious games focus on the presentation of core cultural concepts while overlooking the design of the gameplay. As a result, a common problem in existing serious games, especially those themed on cultural heritage, is that they are too didactic and thus limit players’ engagement. As a result, these serious games may not have the full capacity to attract potential players and are not effective in delivering their cultural concepts.

Under this circumstance, this paper delves into the design strategies for serious games that have an overarching goal of promoting cultural heritage. This paper is split into two parts. In the first part, this paper includes a case study of two Chinese serious games, Nishan Shaman and Ziyueshiyun. Nishan Shaman is a game featuring Northern Chinese religions, while Ziyueshiyun is a game about classical Chinese poetry. By analyzing their gameplay and educational components, this paper reveals the common gap between game mechanics and narratives in these serious games. While both games have interactive gameplay and intriguing contexts, the connection between the two, described by Janet Murray as the “dramatic agency,” is largely missing. Since narrative is the most prevalent form to convey historical and cultural messages, a dynamic narrative system is needed in serious game design to rebuild the connection between gameplay and contexts. To rebuild this connection, this paper reviews relevant literature as well as the gameplay-context model in commercial games and suggests emergent narrative as a method to create a non-linear and diverse game narrative system.

The second part of this paper takes a project-based endeavor by implementing a game prototype to substantiate the proposed method. This prototype, as developed by the author, incorporates knowledge of cultural heritage into emergent dialogues between non-playable characters (NPCs) and the protagonist. The game introduces a simple gameplay of collecting items representative of cultural heritage and learning about their historical origins and backgrounds through dialogue with NPCs. In the design process, a dialogue framework of three layers is established: (1) gameplay logic, (2) player agency, and (3) narrative supplement. The gameplay logic layer generally includes quest-related dialogues and greetings to engage players in immersive game scenarios. The player agency layer then focuses on connecting the player agency, also known as the player’s satisfaction with influencing the game world, to the cultural heritage contents. Dialogues in this layer are given three tags according to the topic of conversation: navigation, choice, and property. The last layer, the narrative supplement, is formed by interesting anecdotes or other relevant conversations to streamline the gameplay or reinforce the cultural context.

Prototyping this game sheds light on the potential of adding depth to narrative through emergent dialogues in existing serious games, thus helping educate players about cultural heritage. As feedback from playtests is collected and the game narrative is continuously improved, this paper identifies common relationships between dialogue types situated in the proposed dialogue design framework. Incorporating the dialogue design framework in future serious game design can synergize game mechanics with their intended contexts, eventually improving the players’ engagement and promoting the core values of serious games.

My Game History: Teaching Against Hegemonic Game History

ABSTRACT. This extended abstract details the pilot project My Game History, which teaches game students to reflect on their personal play history, challenges hegemonic play and game histories centering in specific games, technologies, and designers, and produces play history exhibitions for museum use.

Unearthing the Ludic Media Archaeology of Fashion

ABSTRACT. The convergence of digital games and fashion has received recent attention across popular and academic discourses, particularly in a commercial context. It is thus unsurprising that this recent convergence of fashion and digital games has already rapidly been characterised within the context of marketing and branding. This proposed work seeks to expand on this dominant perspective through a media archaeological perspective, looking to not define 'fashion games' but rather unearth marginalised ludic fashion media to 're-presence' fashion's movements towards digital futures. Doing so facilitates new possibilities for fashion and digital games, decentralising both by providing alternative readings and resisting institutionalisation by dominant paradigms.

16:30-18:00 Session 6G: Nostalgia
Kosmonaut's Log: Field Notes on the Politics of Nostalgia in Ludic Representations of Soviet Space Exploration

ABSTRACT. This Extended Abstract explores the politics and aesthetics of ludic representations of post-communist nostalgia, specifically games that follow the trend known as ‘space nostalgia’. Please refer to the attached document for the full text and figures.

The Call of Queue. PRL Heritage and Nostalgia in Contemporary Polish Game Culture

ABSTRACT. In this analysis, we will focus on a way board- and digital games offer a unique way to present and possibly resolve Polish public memory tensions. By focusing on the usage of Polish People's Republic-era tangible heritage in board- and digital games, we will scrutinize qualities making games especially adept in reconciling the memory of the crisis and poverty in the 1980s with the contemporary, nostalgic appreciation of material artifacts of the era.

16:30-18:00 Session 6H: Traversing Space
From the Walking Sim to the Watch_Dog and Beyond: Walter Benjamin's Flânerie in the Age of the Metaverse

ABSTRACT. An application of Walter Benjamin's concept of flânerie as a critical lens for analysis of contemporary trends in gameplay and game design, including the ubiquity of open worlds, the cultural significance of walking simulators, and the ongoing aesthetic, philosophical, and sociocultural negotiations emerging from the advent of the metaverse(s).

Monkey Island as a Theme Park Going Beyond Hyperrealism: Ron Gilbert's Auteurial Style and Thematic Concerns

ABSTRACT. Until April 1st, 2022, no-one expected that the iconic flagship of adventure games, the Monkey Island series would receive a sequel after Telltale’s 2009 venture into the franchise with Tales of Monkey Island, much less that original designers Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman would be at the helm, producing Return to Monkey Island (Terrible Toybox 2022). A direct continuation of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (Lucasfilm Games 1991), it aimed to resolve the memorably surrealistic ending of the second game, wherein protagonist Guybrush Threepwood emerged with his archnemesis LeChuck from the catacombs under Dinky Island as young children, soon to be chastised by their parents for getting lost in the pirate-themed amusement park. The ending has left both players and future narrative designers contributing to the Monkey Island series guessing as to the precise meaning of the sequence, and also speculating about the true secret of Monkey Island. This contribution seeks to untangle the manifold influences that helped Ron Gilbert and his development team conceive of Monkey Island, to comment upon the auteurial style of Ron Gilbert with references to his other ludic output, in particular, Thimbleweed Park (Terrible Toybox 2017), and to situate it in the context of postmodernist and metamodernist theories of culture. The contribution also serves as a sounding board for ideas for the author to be crystallised in a longer monograph devoted to a detailed hermeneutic analysis of the six Monkey Island games. The main research questions motivating the contribution are: 1. What do the strong intermedial connections between the Monkey Island games and Disney theme parks imply about the narrative construction of the Monkey Island universe, and how do the intertextual connections shape the interpretation of the modern intrusions into the storyworld? 2. How does the diegetically “half-real” (Juul 2005) nature of the pirate world fit into Ron Gilbert’s oeuvre and his auteurial conception of the artificiality of the computer game as a medium? How do metamedial gestures contribute to the estrangement effect of finishing the games? 3. In what ways do postmodernist and metamodernist discourses influence the vision of entertainment exhibited in the games? How did these strains of thought contribute to the diegetic conceptualisation of The Secret, and what theoretical consequences can we derive from their narrative execution?   The major theoretical and hermeneutical claims of the paper are as follows: 1. The sustained ruse of Guybrush’s adventures in the Age of Piracy is strategically disrupted by the anachronistic elements of the storyworld to keep players in doubt about the ontological nature of the storyworld. Numerous instances of modern-day entertainment and pop culture, most memorably, the series’ continued references of theme park architecture and rides, are evoked not merely as an homage to Disney or Tim Powers’ On Stranger Tides (1987), but it is also a coherent argument about the virtual reality of the theme park as a physical “constitutive outside” (Butler 1993) to the digital artificiality of the computer game medium. 2. Ron Gilbert’s shocking endings to LeChuck’s Revenge and Return to Monkey Island can be thematically connected to the ending of Thimbleweed Park (and by allusion, to Maniac Mansion (Lucasfilm Games 1987)), in which the constructedness of the game world is exposed as being generated by servers at the Pillowtron factory. The “fourth wall”-shattering ending creates a moment of self-reflection for the player, who must grapple with the constructed nature of the game-world in a move reminiscent of metadramatic performances. The exposure of the world of Monkey Island as a theme park storyworld wrought by Stan to entertain flooring inspector Guybrush is severely disillusioning, and it can be traced back to throwaway comments from the first Monkey Island games. The artificiality of the computer game medium is a lifelong concern for Gilbert, who pokes fun at it (to the disappointment of his players) in the narrative games he is most famous for. 3. The skilful merging of influences, such as Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride or The Princess Bride (Goldman 1973) into the fictional Caribbean of the Monkey Island series can be directly related to major postmodern theorists, such as Jean Baudrillard (1988) or Umberto Eco (1986), who have extensively commented upon the hyperreal nature of theme parks and American popular culture. Additionally, the Monkey Island games twist standard postmodernist concerns about what is real and what is fake by making the player genuinely emotionally invested in the pirate fantasy of Guybrush, and the threat of reality shattering the illusion is mitigated by the multiple endings to Return to Monkey Island, including visual references to Inception (Nolan 2010), which also keep the ontological status of the fictional world perpetually in limbo. The desire to satisfy different fan theories of the nature of Monkey Island results in an amalgamation of aesthetic goals that betray a strong adherence to metamodernist ideals of culture, and Guybrush’s attitude about how to behave in the pirate world of the amusement park is one of “pragmatic idealism” (Vermeule and van Akker 2010). Thus, the ambitions of the research program (and future manuscript) is threefold. First and foremost, to situate the Monkey Island games as not just part of the adventure game or wider video game canon, but as a significant contribution to interactive art and a commentary upon the pervasiveness and the affective resonances of contemporary popular culture. It also seeks to establish Ron Gilbert as bona fide auteur with recognisable stylistic and thematic concerns, while not neglecting the collaborative nature of computer game storytelling, most notably Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer. Finally, the paper and the manuscript intend to highlight the narrative worldbuilding and aesthetic value of the Monkey Island games as artistic pinnacles of the video game medium, which reflect upon the artistic sensibility of the (post-)postmodern era.


Aarseth, Espen. 2005. “The Game and its Name: What is a Game Auteur?” In: Visual Authorship: Creativity and Intentionality in Media. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press. 261-269. Baudrillard, Jean. 1988. “Simulacra and Simulations.” In: Selected Writings. Trans. and ed. Mark Poster. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 166-184. Eco, Umberto. 1986. Travels in Hyperreality. Trans. William Weaver. New York: Harcourt Brace and Company (Harvest Book). Butler, Judith. 1993. Bodies that Matter. New York: Routledge. Goldman, William. 1973. The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure, The "Good Parts" Version. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Juul, Jesper. 2005. Half-Real – Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. LucasFilm Games. 1987. Maniac Mansion. PC. LucasFilm Games. LucasFilm Games. 1990. The Secret of Monkey Island. PC. LucasFilm Games. LucasArts. 1991. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge. PC. LucasArts. Nolan, Christopher, dir. 2010. Inception. Written by Christopher Nolan. Warner Bros. Powers, Tim. 1987. On Stranger Tides. New York, NY: Ace Books. Telltale Games. 2009. Tales of Monkey Island. PC. LucasArts. Terrible Toybox. 2017. Thimbleweed Park. Design: Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick. Terrible Toybox. Vermeulen, Timotheus and Robin van den Akker. 2010. “Notes on Metamodernism.” Journal of Aesthetics & Culture 2.1 (2010), DOI: 10.3402/jac.v2i0.5677.

The Rogue Needs a City: Role-Playing Game Cities and Their Literary Background

ABSTRACT. This paper aims to discuss how the literary relationship between rogues and cities and its remediation into TRPGs in the dawn of this industry’s ecosystem had a massive impact in the way we understand the contemporary digital RPG city.

16:30-18:00 Session 6I: East-Asian Contexts
From Play to Playces: the Representation of Contexts of Play in Japanese Games and Popular Media. Introduction

ABSTRACT. Game Studies, since its inception, has long been investigating the spatial dimensions in games and of games. Over time, researchers broadened their scopes, matching the investigation of the in-game space with the study of the spaces for games and for play, focusing on the interaction/integration between ludic activities and their context/environment. They thus begun to analyse playgrounds and amusement parks, Entertainment districts, theme parks, Game Centers and many other contexts for play. The current proposal aims to investigate one of the less-studied dimensions of the contexts of digital play, at the intersection between game studies and media studies: the representation and discourses of Japanese playces in the popular media in Japan. in spite of their (often) fictional narratives, popular fiction often provides insightful representation of playful activities, including their societal role, the rhetorics of play, the historical spread of games and, last but not least, the space in which ludic activities take place. Based on a corpus of around 40 items, the research has been analysing the representation of the contexts of digital play with specific focus on manga, anime and video games, with specific reference to the representation of game centres, entertainment districts, at-home-play, outdoor play, theme parks. the research is expected to shed a light on the features of the media representation of Japanese playces, at the intersection between the spatial affordances of play, the cultural rhetorics of ludus and the development of the medium of digital games.

Finding the Post-Postwar Japan in Death Stranding's Sublime Ruins

ABSTRACT. This paper uses the sublime as an aesthetic condition and a political apparatus to locate echoes of Japan's post-postwar modernity reverberating throughout Death Stranding's story about unifying the postapocalyptic United States and struggling against the end of the world. It will first establish qualities of the sublime and explore how the game stages the sublime through its ruins and encounters. It then considers the political affordance of the sublime, namely its potency in disrupting official narratives, by exploring how the game meditates on themes intimately linked to Japan's post-postwar modernity, a blend between reflections on Japan's wartime trauma and anxieties towards future precarity. Closely reading encounters with the sublime in Death Stranding, this paper dwells on the frightful pleasure and the dreadful allure of the ruins and situates the sublime as a visual and political framework.

Chinese Cultivation Games and the Cosmotechnics

ABSTRACT. This paper investigates the historical context of Chinese cultivation games and examines their cosmotechnics through the case study of the independent game Project Search (With in/out Linhai 2022). The paper aims to initiate a dialogue on the historical, cultural, and cosmotechnical dimensions of Chinese cultivation games through an analysis of the history of these games and an exploration of the concept of cosmotechnics.

16:30-18:00 Session 6J: Marginalization
On Field Colonization, Intersections and Marginalized Game

ABSTRACT. This presentation highlights the ontological tension of marginalized communities framed as specific types of game studies. The advent and definition of research domains such as Queer Game Studies, Indigenous Game Studies, Black Game Studies et al. both makes space for such work and, arguably, subjugates or others it. In much the way foreign or exoticized cultural elements are made apparent with qualifiers, framing these game studies areas as a specific type of game studies might also be narrowing who is encouraged to research it and further isolating such work from the milieux of games studies. While confirming to an historical precedent of identifying, deconstructing, and identifying narrower and narrower game studies domains, this discussion aims to question the appropriateness of such patterns for an inclusive game studies future.

Englishized? Polish Game Scholars' Responses to the Anglophone Norm

ABSTRACT. The English language is the elephant in our room. It is so common in international game studies that we rarely pause to examine its role; or at least we rarely do so in conference papers or journal articles. In my talk I will look into the role that English plays in game studies in Poland. The empirical part of the talk will be based on six in-depth interviews with Polish game scholars.