Journal Article: Beyond Games as Political Education – Neo-Liberalism in the Contemporary Computer Game Form

 Beyond Political Education
Möring, Sebastian, and Olli Leino. 2016. “Beyond Games as Political Education – Neo-Liberalism in the Contemporary Computer Game Form.” Journal of Gaming & Virtual Worlds 8 (2): 145–61. https://doi.org/10.1386/jgvw.8.2.145_1.
Abstract
This article introduces the juxtaposed notions of liberal and neo-liberal gameplay in order to show that, while forms of contemporary game culture are heavily influenced by neo-liberalism, they often appear under a liberal disguise. The argument is grounded in Claus Pias’ idea of games as always a product of their time in terms of economic, political and cultural history. The article shows that romantic play theories (e.g. Schiller, Huizinga and Caillois) are circling around the notion of play as ‘free’, which emerged in parallel with the philosophy of liberalism and respective socio-economic developments such as the industrialization and the rise of the nation state. It shows further that contemporary discourse in computer game studies addresses computer game/play as if it still was the romantic form of play rooted in the paradigm of liberalism. The article holds that an account that acknowledges the neo-liberalist underpinnings of computer games is more suited to addressing contemporary computer games, among which are phenomena such as free to play games, which repeat the structures of a neo-liberal society. In those games the players invest time and effort in developing their skills, although their future value is mainly speculative – just like this is the case for citizens of neo-liberal societies.

CFP: Journal of the Philosophy of Games – Special Issue on Meaning and Computer Games

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On the occasion of the 9th Philosophy of Computer Games conference in fall 2015 we gathered game researchers, designers, and philosophers to discuss topics related to meaning and computer games. We hereby invite articles to a special issue on meaning and games of the newly launched Journal of the Philosophy of Games. Submissions are open to scholars in any field of studies who take a professional interest in the philosophy of computer games.

We welcome papers that address one or more of the following issues:

Computer games as carriers of representational meanings: How do games convey meaning? Which interpretation methods are most feasible for understanding computer games? Which theories, concepts, and models of meaning-making (e.g. semantics, semiotics, hermeneutics, rhetoric, logic) may apply in the case of computer games in general, or in individual games? How do computer games challenge standing theories of meaning?

Meaning production in gameplay: Is there a unique kind of meaning that applies specifically to the activity of gameplay? How does such meaning differ from semantic, semiotic, hermeneutic and logic-based conceptions of meaning? What characterises meaningful activities in games? How should we characterize the player’s interpretations of the activity of gameplay? How can the experience of meaning arise in computer gameplay?

Value and computer games: How do specific forms of meaning-production in computer games and gameplay contribute to their wider existential, social and cultural value? What is the meaning of in-game values in computer games, how do they relate to general values?

Designing for meaning in games: Which philosophies help us theorise the concept and practices of meaningful game design? How can philosophical approaches to meaning contribute to enriching game design in general?

Contributions will have a clear focus on philosophy and philosophical issues in relation to computer games. Their main emphasis should be an investigation of a theoretical or philosophical point about computer games. They will refer to specific examples of computer games rather than merely invoke them in more general terms.

The paper should be no longer than 7000 words excluding bibliography and adhere to the Chicago Manual of Style, Sixteenth Edition. The deadline for submissions is Midnight GMT, 15 May, 2016. All submitted papers will be subject to double blind peer review.

The articles are submitted electronically on the journal website:

https://www.journals.uio.no/index.php/JPG/index.
https://www.facebook.com/gamephilosophynetwork
https://www.gamephilosophy.org

Keynote Speakers Philosophy of Computer Games Conference 2015 in Berlin

 Monica Vilhauer

Monica VilhauerMonica Vilhauer’s research focuses on the philosophy of communication and dialogue. In her book Gadamer’s Ethics of Play: Hermeneutics and the Other (Lexington Books, 2010), she investigates how communicative understanding itself exists as a form of “play” between interlocutors, and what ethical conditions must be met so that a shared understanding, or shared meaning, may be achieved. She is currently pursuing questions regarding the body’s role in communication and the ways in which humans communicate with non-human beings (animals, nature, etc.). Vilhauer earned her Ph.D. from the New School for Social Research in New York in 2006, and earned tenure at Roanoke College in Virginia in 2012.

Johnny Hartz Søraker

Dr. Johnny Hartz Søraker is Assistant Professor of Philosophy of technology at the Department of Philosophy, University of Twente. He defended his PhD cum laude at the same department, dealing mainly with the epistemology, ontology and ethics of virtual worlds, with a particular focus on their potential impact on personal well-being. Søraker’s main research interests and publications lie in the intersections between Information Technology (esp. virtual worlds and games), on the one hand and both theoretical and practical philosophy, on the other. He often grounds his work in psychological research, especially work in the field of Positive Psychology and is developing this toward a comprehensive methodology entitled “Prudential-Empirical Ethics of Technology (PEET)”. As a hobby project, he is also the host and producer of {SuchThatCast | Behind the philosophy}, which is a podcast consisting of informal conversations with inspiring philosophers.

 Paolo Pedercini

Paolo PederciniPaolo Pedercini is a game developer, artist and educator. He teaches digital media production and experimental game design at the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University. Since 2003 he works under the project name “Molleindustria” producing provocative games addressing issues of social and environmental justice (McDonald’s videogame, Oiligarchy, Phone Story), religion (Faith Fighter) and labor and alienation (Every Day the Same Dream, Unmanned). Molleindustria [soft industry/soft factory] is a project of reappropriation of video games, a call for the radicalization of popular culture, an independent game developer. Molleindustria obtained extensive media coverage and critical acclaim while hopping between digital art, academia, game design, media activism and internet folk art.