Journal Article: Existential Dramaturgy and Video Games: a Formalistic Approach to Telltale’s ‘The Walking Dead’ as Existentialist Gameplay

An interesting new paper by Michail Kouratoras is out. It is a contribution to the growing literature that uses existentialism to analyze gameplay and narrative in computer games.

The abstract: Existentialism has recently appeared as an analytical tool for a deeper or different understanding of video games as cultural artifacts. The existing discourse points towards the requirement of a systematic approach to this matter, which in the present research is in the form of a gameplay-dramaturgy case study. Telltale’s video game The Walking Dead, Season 1, presented itself as a potential game that appeared to include many Existentialist aspects. Therefore, it became the focus of this research. This is because the game’s story unfolds based on (conditional) freedom of choice in a difficult situation with challenging and ultimately insoluble moral dilemmas. Hence, the objective of this case study was a bottom-up, formalistic approach to analyze the connection between the game and Existentialism. It concentrates on the critical dramatic elements of the narrative and the game mechanics, with an emphasis on their game design pattern. The results of the analysis exposed The Walking Dead as a characteristic example of what could be considered an Existential ergodic drama or an Existential, ethical gameplay. This is because of the game’s affinity with most of the major Existential concepts both in its narrative and ludic nature.

Journal Article: Individuating Games

Michael Ridge has a paper out in the  philosophy journal Synthese which discusses the individuation of games.It is notable to our community that there are ever more papers on games in traditional philosophy journals. The abstract of the paper:

Games, which philosophers commonly invoke as models for diverse phenomena, are plausibly understood in terms of rules and goals, but this gives rise to two puzzles. The first concerns the identity of a single game over time. Intuitively one and the same game can undergo a change in rules, as when the rules of chess were modified so that a pawn could be moved two squares forward on its first move. Yet if games are individuated in terms of their constitutive rules and goals, this is incoherent—new rules mean a new game. The second concerns the individuation of games at a point in time. Intuitively, there can be different versions of a single game, where the versions differ in the details of their rules. I offer a solution to this problem that draws on an analogy with individuating languages. The resulting theory should illuminate the metaphysics of games more generally.

 

 

CfP: Special issue on the Taboos of Game Studies in G|A|M|E

Call for Papers: The Taboos of Game Studies (extended abstract deadline Feb 24, 2020)

Editors: Kristine Jørgensen (University of Bergen) and Riccardo Fassone (University of Torino)

The next issue of the Italian journal of game studies G|A|M|E (http://gamejournal.it/) welcomes contributions that address the taboos of game studies.

Taboos can be understood as social prohibitions based in religion or custom rather than in legislation or common sense, and are as such bearing moral weight (International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences 2001). Taboos can be found in all parts of society and guide our practices.

With its maturation, the field of game studies has been through several large debates, spanning the disputes about effects and learning, the so-called narratology versus ludology debate, and in the later years the impact of the #gamergate controversy on research and game culture. As game studies is a multidisciplinary field, such dissensions have been approached from a number of perspectives, as researchers bring their disciplinary paradigms and methodologies into game studies. In this multidisciplinary context, it becomes necessary to critically ask whether we are in a situation where nothing is taboo and everything is permitted, or whether the risk of public or disciplinary controversy makes certain topics or approaches untouchable.

At the same time, video games have historically been the center for a number of moral controversies over excessive violent content and other norm-breaking issues. While criticism and condemnation are not uncommon responses to such game content, in some cases an apologetic rhetoric is applied to the controversial content found in games, which claims that “these are only games.” However, while play research has demonstrated that the playful frame indeed may change the meaning of game content, it can also be argued that it is precisely this frame that makes games so good at treating taboo topics.

Focusing on the taboos of game studies, this issue asks ask whether there are topics that the field does not address, or whether there are perspectives or methods that are being avoided, either due to pressure from the research community itself, or from the society. How do game scholars guard their boundaries, and who is defined as insiders and outsiders? To what degree is game studies currently able to address the problematic aspects of game culture and playful practices? And concerning game content, is there such a thing as an ultimate taboo for game content? Do games have different taboos than other media, and what happens when taboo topics are addressed in a game context?

Topics may include:

  • The taboos of game studies
  • Game research into taboo areas
  • Research on games that deal with taboos
  • The breaking of in-game taboos
  • Game taboos in relation to other cultural forms (literature, cinema, art, design)

Scholars are invited to submit an extended abstract (between 500-1,000 words excluding references) or full papers for this special issue on the topics of the taboos of game studies to editors@gamejournal.it.

Timeline:

  • February 24, 2020: Extended abstract submission deadline (full papers are also accepted)
  • April 2, 2020: Notification of acceptance/rejection sent to authors
  • July 2, 2020: Full paper submission deadline
  • Sept 1, 2020: Review deadline
  • Oct 19, 2020: Deadline for edited papers

Reminder: CfP for Workshop on the Philosophy of Games, 3 – 4 April 2020, Oklahoma

The deadline for submitting papers to the workshop on the Philosophy of Games in Oklahoma is fast approaching. Remember to submit a paper/abstract by Saturday, February 1st.

Here again are links to the CFP on PhilEvents and ASA Websites.

https://philevents.org/event/show/78490?fbclid=IwAR2_NRkMyaMg1SWvSfqleDw9bw5uQTlvmuI1IzltNEfaBRshXh2_KVUU7cg

https://aesthetics-online.org/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1296423

The Double Game Philosophy Conference in St. Petersburg Starts Soon

We are now less than two days away from the Double Game Philosophy Conference in St. Petersburg!  

As you can see from the programme, we have a big week ahead of us. To create a shared experience for all the participants we have chosen a single-track schedule  with interwoven sessions from both conferences. 

Updates about the conference and the social program will be found on the Facebook event page. It will be used as a common news and talk forum, where everyone can post questions and comments about the conference. Feel free to use it for coordination of any social events during the week.

In order to make the Facebook event page easy to find we have made the web address stpetersburg.gamephilosophy.org which will forward you to the page. When you follow the page click the three dots under the title, click “notification settings” and choose “all notifications”.

Manuscripts for the talks will soon be found under the titles for the respective talks. Video recordings will follow after the conference.

The conference dinner will take place on 23rd October. More information will follow on the Facebook event page and on the conference website.

 We’re looking forward to seeing you all in St. Petersburg.

Panel Discussion: Theoretical Approaches to Digital Game Ecologies (October 20th, St. Petersburg)

Digital games present their players with ecologies of objects, properties, processes and events that are defined by their interrelational roles in the game environment. A game ecology is determined by the materiality of the gaming system, its representational functions and gameplay characteristics, and the social and cultural practices that play takes part in.

The notion of an affordance ecology (Gibson 1979) is widely adopted in interface theory and in game studies (Linderoth 2013), but the notion is often expanded with considerations that go beyond visual perception in order to explain the ontological status of the game environment itself. Examples of such approaches can be realists accounts of virtuality (Chalmers 2017; Juul 2019), make-believe psychology for fictionality (Walton 1990), visual ecology (Kolesnikova, Savchuk 2015), the metaphysics of “agential realism” (Barad 2007; Janick 2017) and in externalist theories of embodiment and mind (Clark 2008). 

The aim of this panel is to present a specter of recommendations for theoretical frameworks and to conduct a discussion about the fruitfulness of the presuppositions they rely on. As best possible, the speakers will present a cohesive picture of the current range of theories relating to digital games as ecologies, while outlining the next steps for this emerging subdiscipline of the field.

The panel is a part of the Double Game Philosophy Conference at the St. Petersburg State University. Everybody is welcome to attend.

Program

19.00 Introduction

19.10 Virtual Reality as the Realm of Affordances. Pawel Grabarczyk, ITU Copenhagen

19.40 Stare by Default: Visual Ecology Criteria in Digital Spaces.  Alina Latypova, St. Petersburg State University

20.10  Ludic Similarity Spaces.  John R. Sageng, Game Philosophy Network

20.40  Game Objects in/as ‘Intra-ecologies’.Conor McKeown, Kings College, London

21.10 Common Discussion

The panel will be held in the Experimental Sound Gallery (ESG-21), which is located in the Pushkinskaya 10 Arts Centre. Address: Location: 10, Ulitsa Pushkinskaya (Attention! Entrance from 53, Ligovsky Prospekt). Subway station: Ploshchad Vosstaniya.

About the venue:  Since 1989 Pushkinskaya 10 used to be a core of the underground and non-conformist Russian culture during the perestroyka time, where the most influential avant-garde musicians, artists, intellectuals met and shared their works. Now it is the arts centre gathering under its roof various museums (e.g. Museum of Non-Confor mist Art, John Lennon Temple of Love, Peace and Music, Sound Museum, etc.) and galleries.

Journal Article: Me and My Avatar – Player-Character as Fictional Proxy

A new article is out in the online first section of Journal of the Philosophy of Games. It is written by Matthew Carlson and Logan Taylor. The abstract:

“Players of videogames describe their gameplay in the first person, e.g. “I took cover behind a barricade.” Such descriptions of gameplay experiences are commonplace, but also puzzling because players are actually just pushing buttons, not engaging in the activities described by their first-person reports. According to a view defended by Robson and Meskin (2016), which we call the fictional identity view, this puzzle is solved by claiming that the player is fictionally identical with the player character. Hence, on this view, if the player-character fictionally performs an action then, fictionally, the player performs that action. However, we argue that the fictional identity view does not make sense of players’ gameplay experiences and their descriptions of them. We develop an alternative account of the relationship between the player and player-character on which the player-character serves as the player’s fictional proxy, and argue that this account makes better sense of the nature of videogames as interactive fictions.”

Video Recordings and Manuscripts for PCG2017 and PCG2018

The video recordings and the manuscripts for the PCG2017 conference in Krakow and the PCG2018 conference in Copenhagen can now be found in the archives on the gamephilolosophy site. Most of these have so far only been have been available from  sources elsewhere on the web. Many thanks to Justyna Janik and Michael Debus for having done the laborious job of creating these videos.

Please notify me of any errors. Best of luck with preparing abstracts for the upcoming double conference in St. Petersburg.

Video Recordings for PCG2017

Video Recordings for PCG2018

Conference Manuscripts for PCG2017 and PCG2018.

 

 

 

Conference: Pretend Play and E-Cognition, 19-20 September 2019

The Centre for Philosophical Psychology at the University of Antwerp is organizing this interesting conference on pretend play on 19-20 September this year.  From their descriptions of the conference:

“E-Cognition refers to a young field of interdisciplinary research on embodied, embedded, enactive, extensive and ecological cognition. It includes philosophies of enactivism and embodiment, ecological psychology, sensorimotor theory and dynamical systems theory. It assumes that cognition is shaped and structured by dynamic interactions between the brain, body, and both the physical and social environments.”

“The conference addresses the ongoing debate between cognitivist and non-cognitivist approaches to cognition. Recently, E-Cognition has been gaining popularity, and frameworks such as enactivism have been increasingly used to understand cognitive acts as imagination or remembering (Hutto & Myin, 2014, 2017) and basic forms of pretending (Rucińska, 2016, 2017). Yet, the existing challenge to E-cognition is that it is still difficult to operationalize, as its “emphasis on holism presents problems for empirical investigations” (Gallagher, 2017, p. 21). This conference adds insight into this debate, as it seeks to explore ways of designing an empirical experiment that would include the hypotheses of E-Cognition theories.”

Journal Article: Interactive Works and Gameplay Emotions

IssuesJonathan Frome, a frequent contributor to the PCG-conference series, has a paper out on Games and Culture.

The article abstract:

Video games differ from films, books, and other mainstream media both in their interactive capabilities and in their affordances for gameplay. Interactivity and gameplay are closely related, as interactivity is necessary for gameplay. Unfortunately, this close relationship has led many video game scholars to conflate these two concepts when discussing player experience. In this article, I argue that, when discussing emotional responses to video games, gameplay and interactivity should be understood as distinct concepts: Gameplay involves both interactive and noninteractive elements, and interactive works do not always involve gameplay. I propose that there are significant drawbacks to overlooking this distinction and that highlighting it is important for understanding player experience, player emotion, and the ways video games differ from other entertainment media.

https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1555412019847907