Call for Presentations: Perception in Games and Virtual Worlds

Seminar in Athens, Greece: 01-02 September, 2022.

The Norwegian Institute in Athens

 

Both traditional games and games that take place in virtual environments rely on play-states that are essentially designed around perceptual features that play crucial roles in aiding how the player is acting in the gaming environment. This is apparent by the fact that they prominently rely on phenomenal spatial structures, but also by a variety of perceptual roles that enter into elements like storytelling, sound, kinesthetic feedback and immersive design. 

How should we understand the character of perception in games and virtual environments?  While normal perception registers ordinary perceptual properties, players perceive objects and properties imposed by images, rules, symbols and ludic context. In the perception of virtual worlds, the user is not perceiving ordinary objects, but rather images and symbols designed to instil imagination and to convey semantic contents. In traditional games the players perceive objects and properties determined by rules and play. 

In this workshop we aim to discuss questions that pertain to perceptual content and its relationship with player action.

Among the questions we wish to explore are:

  • Is perception in virtual worlds veridical? Is it appropriate to talk of perception in virtual worlds?
  • Do we perceive game properties?
  • How should we understand subjectivity and perception mediated by avatars?
  • How do cultural and ideological frames shape perceptual experience?
  • How does the reality status of objects and properties affect the characterization of perceptual content?
  • What are the phenomenal characteristics of gaming experiences?
  • How is narrative, fictional worlds and gaming structured around perceptual states?
  • How is imagination, make-believe and fantasy related to perception in games?
  • In what manners are perceptual schema like space, time, objecthood and modality utilized in gaming?
  • What is the relationship between inference and perceptual content in games?
  • How do we perceive affordances in games?
  • Can the perceptual content of games be analyzed as “seeing as”?
  • What are the phenomenal characteristics of perceptual experiences that are distinctive to ludic environments?
  • How should we characterize the consciousness that accompanies perception of games and virtual environments?

Contributions from different scholarly approaches are welcome, such as game studies, cognitive science, enactivist perception theory, phenomenology, fiction theory, media philosophy, and classic philosophies of perception.

To establish a common frame of reference, three existing articles on the topic will be distributed for common reading. Please submit an abstract (max 3000 characters) in this form: https://bit.ly/3PHRrYD and send a copy to perceptioningames@gmail.com by August 1.  The participants will be required to submit a 1-2 page synopsis for circulation right before the seminar. We highly appreciate presentations that can be submitted as papers to the Journal of the Philosophy of Games, but the participants are free to publish their work where they want.

The seminar is organized by Game Philosophy Network, Cultural Informatics, Data and Computational Cultural Studies Lab [CID-CCS Lab] at Panteion University, and the Department of Philosophy and Department of Information Science and Media Studies at the University of Bergen, Norway.

Organizing Committee: Anita Leirfall, Elina Roinioti, John R. Sageng and Rune Klevjer.

Call for Papers: “The Genre Buster – On Terminology, History, Worldbuilding and Gameplay of the Immersive Sim”

Dear community of the Game Philosophy Network,

it is my pleasure to share with you the Call for Papers “The Genre Buster – On Terminology, History, Worldbuilding and Gameplay of the Immersive Sim.
It will be a special issue for the online journal Paidia and was conceptualized by me dear colleagues Hajo Backe (ITU Copenhagen), Felix Zimmermann (University of Cologne) and me.
At a glance:
  • Research/research projects on all possible facets of Immersive Sim welcome (see below for possible topics and questions)
  • Abstract by 04/10/2022 (max. 300 words) to paidia(at)germanistik.uni-muenchen.de (blind peer review process)
  • Feedback by the end of May
  • Full paper to be submitted by 10/15/2022
  • Contributions in German and English possible

One of the most talked-about, well-reviewed, and awarded1 games of 2021, Deathloop (Arkane 2021.) stands in a long tradition of digital games like System Shock (Looking Glass Studios 1994.), Deus Ex (Ion Storm 2000.) and Bioshock (Irrational Games 2007.) that are often referred to as “immersive simulation games” or “immersive sims”, for short. Are these games a genre, a style, a school, or a mode? It doesn’t make things any easier that the name “immersive sim” is an actual misreading of the text it originates in: Warren Spector’s Postmortem of Deus Ex uses the term, but in a descriptive fashion for only one of the many facets of the game, when he characterizes it as “part immersive simulation, part role-playing game, part first-person shooter, part adventure game”.2

Deathloop’s developer, Arkane Studios, has specialized in immersive sims, like 2K Boston, Irrational Games, and Looking Glass Studios before them. These developers are often credited with pioneering countless innovations of action-adventure gameplay that have permeated into the mainstream of digital games, to the point that immersive sims are effectively declared passé by one of the former studio bosses of Arkane, Raphael Colantonio, when he claims that “the genre will eventually disappear because its values must migrate to all genres eventually”.3 What is more, these games themselves, despite their acclaim and influence, have notoriously under-performed in terms of sales. Deathloop has fallen short even of its predecessor, Prey (Arkane 2017), in both copies sold4 and number of concurrent players.5 So why are these games so revered by fans and game developers alike, yet fail to attract a large player-base? Why are they considered so influential and at the same time inaccessible and somewhat obscure? Are they, to borrow the words of Forbes contributor Paul Tassi, “not designed to sell very well”?6 And in addition: why are they, given their critical acclaim and often non-commercial attitudes, not embraced as game art to the degree that many indie games are?

That none of these questions is easy to answer is maybe unsurprising given that there’s little consensus about what defines these games. There is a whole range of commonalities between them. To highlight just three: (1) Their game design emphasizes alternative solutions to problems, usually favoring stealth and cunning over brute force. With regards to both Dishonored games and Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Eidos Montreal 2011), among others, most levels are laid out as branching, multi-path structures embodying different modes of play and thus reward the player with diverse solutions to solve a quest or parts of it. Hence, immersive sim architectures are tightly interlaced with a certain openness of the quest design; (2) in addition, their lead designers – Warren Spector, Harvey Smith, Ken Levine, to name but a few of the most prominent figures – are often considered game auteurs; (3) finally, an immersive sim gameplay experience can lead to a specific empowerment of the player, while at the same time, it can evoke an “aporetic experience” in the sense of Darshana Jayemanne, meaning that the player can be overwhelmed by a game situation and has to gain advantage out of her own uncertainty.7

Immersive sims, or what has come to be known as immersive sims, appear to be very much “genre-busting” as Warren Spector already proclaimed for Deus Ex.8 It seems only natural, then, that where a new alleged immersive sim emerges, a discussion about this prevalent but ephemeral term follows. Again, the recent Deathloop can serve as an example. For the online magazine Edge, Alex Spencer takes the release of the game as an incentive to talk about the history and future of the “imperfect label” that is immersive sim.9 He even goes so far as to say that Deathloop “seems to have been designed to address some of the flaws of the immersive sim”.10 Or consider the piece on The Escapist by Andrei Pechalin who claims that Deathloop is a “subversion of immersive sim expectations”.11 The aforementioned stealth and cunning that appear to be significant for immersive sim games have been, according to Pechalin, replaced by a decidedly “quick pacing” which, however, “saps some of that atmosphere” characteristic for the immersive sim experience of earlier games.12 But does this mean that Deathloop isn’t an immersive sim anymore? Or is it just a different, maybe more accessible version of it? Considering all these critical thoughts, one can also ask if Arkane created Deathloop with the intention of being self-reflective or a meta commentary on their past games and on the specific peculiarities of the immersive sims in general.

One would be mistaken to assume that this discussion confines itself to circles of experts. A quick search on the subreddit for Deathloop reveals numerous entries on immersive sim. Similarly to the argument brought forth by Pechalin, players discuss if and to what degree Deathloop “will work and help the genre become more popular in the future” because of its more action-oriented gameplay.13 Others ask whether Deathloop even still is an immersive sim, or a “light immersive sim” in comparison to previous titles like Prey or Dishonored (Arkane 2012).14There even is a – albeit small – subreddit specifically dedicated to immersive sims (r/ImmersiveSims).

It is noticeable that these discussions almost always go the way of comparing new entries to the manageable number of games in what appears to be an immersive sim canon. Players as well as journalists often collect these games in listicles15 with usual suspects like Thief: The Dark Project (Looking Glass Studios 1998)Dishonored and Deus Ex always making the cut. More controversial picks like the 2016 reboot of the Hitman series (IO Interactive 2016-2021) signify the volatility of these canon-like collections and the term “immersive sim” as a whole. Nevertheless, it appears to be impossible to talk about games that could be deemed worthy of this label without considering the tradition, the historical context of their existence.

However, while – as we have shown – journalists and players alike regularly engage in discussion on the use and limitations of the immersive sim terminology, the scientific community remains surprisingly absent from these debates. This is not to say that there is no scholarly research on the aforementioned games. Although games like Bioshock Infinite  (Irrational Games 2013)16 or Dishonored17 have drawn attention, we still see the need for a unifying approach which considers these and other games specifically in light of their status as immersive sims.

With this special issue, we aim to engage – for the first time, to our knowledge – in a scholarly debate about the fundamental implications of the immersive sim term. Hence we encourage interested researchers from all disciplines to reflect and argue critically on topics and questions that include, but are not limited to, the following:

– The historicization of the immersive sim

– The question of whether the immersive sim is a genre, style, or mode, or something else

– The distinct properties of the immersive sim (e.g. agency, choice making, worldbuilding, environmental storytelling, possibility space)

– The originality, tradition and/or innovation within the immersive sim phenomenon

– The question of how to deal with cases where the “genre-busting” genre immersive sim adopts influences from other genres or styles (like rogue-like)

– The question of perspective (e.g. is the first-person/subjective point of view a constitutive part of the immersive sim?)

– Production contexts of the immersive sim (e.g. personnel continuities, auteur games, artistic ambitions, focus on aesthetics)

– The general role of specific developer studios (e.g. Irrational Games, Arkane) or publishers (e.g. Bethesda)

– The question of whether the immersive sim is a niche product, art, indie, or mainstream

– The metareflexive potential of the immersive sim e.g. as in revealing a possible status between toys and games

– Case studies of (classic) immersive sim games from current scholarly approaches (e.g. gender studies, queer studies or critical race studies)

– Exploring borderline cases of the immersive sim (e.g. Hitman reboot series, Cyberpunk 2077Dying Light 2 Stay Human)

– The connection between ludonarrative dissonance and immersive sims

– Explorations on the specific atmospheres or architectonics of the immersive sim

Important information:

Contributions will be accepted in either English or German.

If you want to contribute please send an abstract of 300 words until 10th of April to paidia@germanistik.uni-muenchen.de. Please use usual formats like pdf, docx or rtf.

The proposals will enter a blind peer review process, please anonymize your document.

The full paper shall not exceed 35.000 characters (including blanks) and has to be submitted by 15th of October so that the special issue can be published on www.paidia.de in Winter/Spring 2022/2023. PAIDIA is a scientific non-profit project which is why the published contributions are unremunerated.

For further questions concerning the topic ‘immersive sim’ please contact the editors of the special issue:

Hans-Joachim Backe: hanj@itu.dk

Marc Bonner: mbonner@uni-koeln.de

Felix Zimmermann: kontakt@felix-zimmermann.net

Abstracts deadline: May 1st 2022

Announcement of proposal acceptance: May 2022

Full paper submissions deadline: October 15th 2022

Academic Game Philosophy Discord

Hello! I’m Kutub Gandhi, a second year PhD student interested in teaching philosophy through games. The pandemic has limited my ability to find like minded individuals, and in that vein I’ve created a discord for academics interested in game philosophy.
I hope that it can serve as an unofficial messaging platform for the game philosophy network; a platform for any and all discussion under the wide umbrella of games and philosophy.
If there are enough interested members, I could even see the discord hosting reading groups or social hours. Join at this link (https://discord.gg/QPzvX5NfX9) and feel free to invite your peers who may be interested!

Call for Papers: Chinese DiGRA 2021

The call for the annual conference of Chinese DiGRA chapter is out, and the organizers wish to encourage game philosophers to submit abstracts to the conference. Please find the full call for papers below:

We are excited to announce this year’s Chinese DiGRA conference, hosted by the Academy of Visual Arts at Hong Kong Baptist University on the 4th of December 2021. Given the current restrictions on travel, we are planning this year’s Chinese DiGRA as a hybrid online and in-person event. Accepted papers will be pre-recorded as videos and live panels and paper discussions held in person and on Zoom.

We invite submissions on any aspect of Chinese games, game industries, game design and gaming cultures. We also invite submissions from people located in the Chinese-speaking region who are researching any aspect of games. The conference encourages papers from students and early career researchers as well as game industry workers. In addition to encouraging general submissions, our keynotes and themed panels will engage the converging trajectories of user-generated content and cryptocurrencies.

Keynote Speakers: To be announced.

Format:
Submissions can be in English or Chinese.
Please submit a maximum 1000 word (or 1700 characters) extended abstract.

Important dates:
October 16th: Deadline for submissions
October 26th: Decisions announced. Presenters receive additional practical information about how to record and submit their presentations (we recommend PowerPoint with voiceover or the free and open software OBS [Open Broadcast Software])
November 12th: Conference registration opens
November 12th: To facilitate uploading and translation, we ask all presenters to send us a video (or a PowerPoint presentation with voiceover) and a transcript of their presentation in advance.
December 4th: Conference.

How to submit:

Please email a pdf version of a maximum 1000-word/1700 character (excluding references) extended abstract no later than October 16th, 2021 to peteracnelson@hkbu.edu.hk. Please make sure to include “CDiGRA2021 Submission” in the subject line of your message. Extended abstracts will be selected by conference and program chairs based on their academic rigour and relevance to the themes of the conference. Note that the extended abstracts do not need to be anonymous. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by October 26th. Accepted authors will have an opportunity to submit their extended abstracts for inclusion in the DiGRA Digital Library. For questions regarding paper submission and the topics of the conference, or questions on the conference, please contact peteracnelson@hkbu.edu.hk.
Organization description and history

Chinese DiGRA (中华电子游戏研究协会​ /​ 中華 數位遊戲研究協會) is a regional chapter of DiGRA (Digital Games Research Association) focusing on game research relevant to Chinese speaking countries and the surrounding regions. Chinese DiGRA aims to enhance the quality, quantity, and international profile of games research in the Chinese-speaking context, by developing a network of game scholars and researchers working in the Chinese-speaking world and/or on aspects of Chinese games and gaming cultures, forging links between academic and professional researchers on games, supporting teaching and PhD development in the region, and disseminating and promoting Chinese game scholarship around the world. Chinese DiGRA is run by a board comprised of top academics in the fields of Chinese games research from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. You can find more information on Chinese DiGRA, including papers from previous conferences, at our website.

CfP: Indeterminate Futures / The Future of Indeterminacy – Transcdisciplinary Conference University of Dundee, Scotland, 13 – 15 November 2020

Dear game philosophers

We’re inviting submissions for a transcdisciplinary conference on indeterminacy. We’re particularly interested in submissions from game studies/philosophy on infinite games, games with variable rule architectures (e.g. Nomic) and on indeterminate aspects of aleatoric artistic games/works.

The full CFP can be found here: https://call-for-papers.sas.upenn.edu/cfp/2020/01/21/indeterminate-futures-the-future-of-indeterminacy

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Best,

Natasha

Workshop: DiGRA2020 – The Practice (and Philosophy) of Referencing Games

There is currently no consensus within game studies as to how games—the main objects of analysis in the field—ought to be cited in academic publications. While some journals and publishers do offer guidelines on this matter, these guidelines are not followed consistently (Olsson, 2013). No specific guidance for game citation exists in the main referencing systems of APA, Chicago etc. This lack of standardization has led to huge variation in how games are cited in text and in reference lists, if they are cited at all.

At DiGRA last year, I addressed the notions of game authorship and game referencing with my colleagues and friends Riccardo Fassone and Jonas Linderoth in a paper titled: ‘How to Reference a Digital Game’ (http://www.digra.org/wp-content/uploads/digital-library/DiGRA_2019_paper_50.pdf).

This year, for DiGRA2020, I am organizing a game citation workshop together with Paul Martin and Jonathan Frome (on the 2nd of June, starting from 9.30). The objective of this workshop is to consult with game scholars, publishers, and editors on what would constitute an appropriate method for citing games in academic writing on games (both digital and non-digital). The workshop itself will be an opportunity for game scholars to discuss both the principles that should inform the development of a citation standard and some of the technical details involved in creating the standard.

Its intended outcomes are:

  • Criticism of existing reference practices.
  • An agreed upon set of guiding principles for developing a citation standard.
  • A citation standard based on these guiding principles that can be implemented within any of the main existing citation methods.
  • An agreed upon process for establishing this standard in the main journals and publishers of game scholarship and in the next edition of guidelines published by APA, MLA, Harvard, and the other main citation systems.

 How to participate in game citation workshop at Digra 2020

The workshop will be open to everyone at the conference. Since this will be an open discussion, we are not asking for submissions. However, it would be very useful for us to know how many people wish to attend. Please indicate your interest in attending the workshop by emailing one of the organizers (emails listed below) or filling out this short questionnaire (<5 minutes) about game citation: link to questionnaire. This questionnaire will be used to identify the challenges to be discussed during the workshop and is a very important step for us to ensure that the workshop includes diverse opinions on this topic.

Even if you cannot attend the workshop, please fill out the questionnaire to help us solicit a wide range of opinions on game citation in advance of the workshop!

 

References

Gualeni, S., Fassone, R., & Linderoth, J. 2019.“How to Reference a Digital Game”. Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA international Conference. Kyoto, Japan, August 6-10, 2019.

Olsson, C. (2013). Spelreferenser i akademiska publikationer. En kartläggning av referenspraktiker inom spelvetenskap. Bachelor thesis (2013:4), Swedish School of Library and Information Science, University of Borås.

Attribution for illustration picture: futureatlas.com / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

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

CFP: Workshop on the Philosophy of Games, 3 – 4 April 2020, Oklahoma

Call for Papers

Workshop on the Philosophy of Games

3 – 4 April 2020, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond OK

We invite scholars in any field of study who take a professional interest in the philosophy of games to submit papers to the Workshop on the Philosophy of Games.

Games are obviously growing in cultural weight and importance. They also come in various forms, from board games to sports, videogames to game of make-believe, card games to roleplaying games. There are several philosophical questions that can and have been raised about games: what are games? What is their value? Can games be artworks, or possess aesthetic value? Are there ethical issues that arise with gameplay?

Possible topics to be addressed include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • What is the definition of a “game”, and how does it relate to other closely allied concepts, such as “artwork”, “sport”, and “play”?
  • What is the nature of the relationship between the play aspects of a game and the fictional aspects of a game?
  • What is the ontological structure of a game? Is it to be identified with the rules of the game, the physical apparatus that supports it, or some larger social structure?
  • How might game scholarship benefit from feminist, queer, or critical race interventions?
  • What are the norms of game-play? Are the norms of gameplay genre-specific or game-specific?
  • Is there an aesthetic value to games? Is there an aesthetic value to the play experience?
  • Is there a moral or political value to games?

As a workshop, we are open to receiving papers-in-progress. Submissions should not exceed 3000 words and be prepared for anonymous review. The deadline for submissions is February 1, 2020. Please send your submission to bartelcj@appstate.edu. Please include “Workshop Submission” in the subject title of your email. Travel funding reimbursements of up to $500 will be available for presenters. We welcome submissions from members of underrepresented populations within academia.

The workshop organizers are committed to the goals of increasing the diversity in academic events. In working toward this goal, we wish to collect demographic data from individuals who submit papers. Participation in this data collection is entirely voluntary. Your demographic data will not be shared with the selection committee. Decisions about submitted essays will not be contingent on your participation in submitting this data. If authors wish to participate in this data collection exercise, we ask prospective participants to report along with their submitted essay (1) gender identification and (2) racial and ethnic identification. Please use any terms that you feel are most appropriate. We also ask prospective participants (3) to indicate whether they are a member of the American Society for Aesthetics.

Organizing Committee: Christopher Bartel (Appalachian State University), Mark Silcox (University of Central Oklahoma)

Selection Committee: Eva Dadlez, Zach Jurgensen, Shelby Moser, C. Thi Nguyen, Stephanie Patridge, John Sageng

This workshop is generously supported by a grant from the American Society for Aesthetics.

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.