Carr is a Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at the Institute of Education,
University of London, based at the London Knowledge Lab. Information about
her recent research into learning in online worlds is online here http://learningfromsocialworlds.wordpress.com/.
More information about publications, previous events, teaching and research
can be found at the Playhouse
This presentation will give an overview of my approach to computer games as important elements and vectors of our contemporary technocultural becoming, one in which the century of warfare continues to live out its agonies and anxieties.
is an artist based in Bristol. He is currently working in digital media,
print and paint.
Can killing a prostitute in Grand Theft Auto be read as a work of art? What if it's done self-consciously and ironically?
Why should games aspire to being art? Why shouldn't they? Does that expose an elitist hierarchy of cultural forms? Generally speaking art doesn't involve killing prostitutes or saving the world from demonic forces. Is the question really about our attitudes towards content? On one hand, do we struggle to conceptualise games as art because they are supposed to be disposable, escapist and not to be taken overly seriously? Do we resist calling games art to protect the medium from po-faced over-analysis and deconstruction? Is there any truth in the idea that games and art are separate entities and if they're good at being one thing, generally speaking, they are pretty bad at being the other? Dan loves games and Jessica is, at the least, deeply ambivalent toward them. Dan is a games researcher and Jessica is an artist. Together they make experimental games and argue about whether they are art or not. One of these, a little mod called Dear Esther, has caused arguments in gaming forums across the net that tap directly into these issues. They'd like to come along and talk about it.
Curry & Dan Pinchbeck
‘Black Games’ are a lesser known area of Military Conflict Simulations (a.k.a. wargaming). They are games that deal with harsh morale imperatives that may be seen by wider society as being in ‘poor taste’ or just unacceptable. There is a case for their use in military training, such as one side in the game planning to commit atrocities, in order for military and professionals to use gaming to explore strategies to mitigate such acts. However, they have also been used at universities to explore challenging areas of politics, such as gaming the actions of warlords in Africa, historians to better understand situations in the past and to create conceptual models, and even more controversially, their use has now spread to recreation. The session would give examples of ‘black’ games as used by the military, educational, professional historians and recreation, with a view to exploring the less positive impact on the people involved in such gaming.
Curry has edited 12 books on wargaming and has an interesting range of
consultancy in the area of military conflict simulations and emergency
planning. He also teaches games programming in the surreal world of higher
education delivered in a further education college. He specialises in
using various gaming techniques to enhance student learning.
Who, What, Where, When, Why and How is a performative work by UK based artist Rod Dickinson, in collaboration with Steve Rushton, that interrogates the historical form and role of the presidential speech and press briefing. Set in a meticulously constructed press conference environment, two actors will deliver a simulated 45 minute press briefing.
and the moving image have long shaped not only how dramatic events such
as conflicts are perceived, but also how and if they happen. The script
of Who, What, Where, When, Why and How is composed solely of fragments
of press statements from the cold war onward and focuses on the way in
which similar declarations and political rhetoric have been repeated and
reused by numerous governments across continents and through the decades
to justify acts of state sanctioned violence.
This short presentation will explore the persistence of death across virtual and actual play: representations of death, simulations of death, death as gameplay dynamic, death as delerious event, actual (albeit nonhuman) death. It will address the nature of play as modelling the world, generating worlds, inverting the world. It will refer to the microethnographic movie Happy When He Dies, which will also be screened at BADgames.
presentation will focus on the recent phenomena of the “Microsoft
Xbox 360 Achievement Gamerscore system”, and its Sony Playstation
3 equivalent, “Trophys”, with its potential transformation
of videogame criticism in the current commercial platform generation.
Jackson BA (Hons)
EGenesis’ A Tale in the Desert prides itself both on being a hard game to play, and one in which social manipulation is seen as an acceptable part of daily life. For the residents of Ancient Egypt, this reaches its peak during the so called ‘raeli wars’ that take place in the middle of each game cycle, or ‘Telling’. Raeli ovens are buildings which dredge clay from the ground and produce coloured tiles, and are essential for various parts of the game that follows. However, raelis also cause pollution, and close proximity to another oven causes neither to function. In a game based on quite literally building a perfect society, the raeli ovens constructed around Egypt often act as a locus for feuding, territorial wars and social griefing, bringing the social tension inherent in the game to the fore. A Tale in the Desert is a bad game because it encourages its users to play nasty; even rewards them ludically for this, whilst supporting a community in which such practises are directly linked to griefing; even named as such by players. In a world where players can ban each other, the raeli oven is a symbol of the complex social interactions that take place within the game, not always equitably. Whilst the game itself involves complex ludic interactions (raelis require a basic understanding of the RGB colour spectrum, for example), it also deliberately challenges players on a moral level. What, if anything, is the perfect society, and how does one go about it? It is this complex interweaving of ludic aim and subversive social manipulation that this paper examines.
The really bad games – so bad that they should be banned – are the so-called ‘serious games’; poorly made, ugly artifacts that masquerade as ‘educational’, the spurious notion that ‘because it’s a game, your disaffected youth will suddenly learn in new and exciting ways.’ In his 2005 book, Everything Bad Is Good for You, Steven Johnson argues that games like The Sims and Grand Theft Auto make us smarter by training the mind in adaptive behavior and problem-solving. I disagree – the problems presented in most games aren’t solved by ‘adaptive behavior’, they’re solved by mindlessly performing the same task over and over again until you finally crack the stupid puzzle or you download the walkthrough. Either way, real life doesn’t come with a walkthrough and does demand adaptive thinking based on deductive reasoning, logic, insight and plain dumb luck. Also, there’s no ctrl-Z in real life. Mistakes stay made. And that’s just the start of the problem with serious gaming… This paper outlines why I find it impossible to endorse ‘serious games’ for educational purposes. It’s a personal and passionate exploration, I’ll list some specific reasons why educational games don’t work, and some suggestions as to how, in future, they might.
This presentation will address 'kuso ge' - the Japanese 'shit games' avant-garde movement.
Advanced Military Game[ers] Research (AMIGA) Project
Very few game scholars have discussed and/or analysed games thematised round sex and eroticism. However, even lesser, if not nonexistent, is the body of work on how players may become tempted, aroused or simply reminded of their sexualities during gameplay also when the content of the game does not directly suggest such experience to take place. An example of a game facilitating such encounters during gameplay is Bejeweled Blitz, a Facebook application and a timed version of the widely popular flash game Bejeweled. While multiplayer games offer endless possibilities for exploring (cyber)sex and sexualities, my presentation will set out a frame of thought for considerations on gender and sexuality in single player games. It will be based on two tiny snapshot-like materials; 1) an interview with the sound designer of Bejeweled Blitz and 2) forum discussions on a very specific feature of the game: a sound feedback snippet triggered by a successful move in the game. In Bejeweled Blitz, the player is commended with single-word feedback audio clips saying “Good.” and “Excellent.” with a sensual, mature male voice. The same voice welcomes the player to the game with deep “One minute, go.” and finishes the game with “Time up.”. And his sound seems to be exciting for many. The presentation will encourage discussion that bears in mind the studies that suggest casual games as primarily adult female leisure for stay-at-home mothers.