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!

Game: Doors – A Playable Philosophical Essay on In-game Doors

Prof. Stefano Gualeni (University of Malta) and his team, which includes Dr. Nele Van de Mosselaer (University of Antwerp, Belgium) and other members of the Institute of Digital Games (University of Malta), are happy to announce the launch of a new, FREE and SHORT playful attempt at making a new set of philosophical arguments.

You might remember their previous game about the analytical definition of what a soup is: Something Something Soup Something. Well, their new game is titled ‘Doors’ and is about doors. It takes about 20 minutes and it is great for in-class use.

PLAY IT AT: https://doors.gua-le-ni.com

‘Doors’ was made possible with funds made available by Maltco Lotteries and the FWO (FWO Research Foundation – Flanders).

What is the game about?

‘Doors’ is a ‘playable essay’ designed to playfully examine existing theories about how objects are represented within games and virtual worlds more in general. Each door in the game raises a different question regarding its representation!

How is it valuable as a didactic tool?

‘Doors’ can be used in a variety of ways, beyond being played and reflected upon. It can be assigned as homework in order to stimulate in-class conversations concerning the representation of in-game objects and related theories in fields such as the philosophy of fiction, the philosophy of imagination, the philosophy of games, game studies, and so on.

Also, each student can be tasked – as an assignment – to find doors in games that are represented in a way that aligns with one of the categories offered by the game (and related literature). After that, they can present to the rest of the class about what they found, such as interesting overlaps and uses, cases that transcend basic categorizations, or particularly relevant examples.

All the doors and the papers connected to each are also possible to be browsed off-game HERE.

‘Doors’ is a SHORT and FREE experiment in playable philosophy about in-game doors. Do you think you can HANDLE it?

Book: The Aestehetics of Virtual Reality

It is a significant event that Grant Tavinor has a new book out. While it is about virtual reality rather than computer games, it will no doubt be read and used by many game philosophers.  This is the book description:

This is the first book to present an aesthetics of virtual reality media. It situates virtual reality media in terms of the philosophy of the arts, comparing them to more familiar media such as painting, film and photography.

When philosophers have approached virtual reality, they have almost always done so through the lens of metaphysics, asking questions about the reality of virtual items and worlds, about the value of such things, and indeed, about how they may reshape our understanding of the real world. Grant Tavinor finds that approach to be fundamentally mistaken, and that to really account for virtual reality, we must focus on the medium and its uses, and not the hypothetical and speculative instances that are typically the focus of earlier works. He also argues that much of the cultural and metaphysical hype around virtual reality is undeserved. But this does not mean that virtual reality is illusory or uninteresting; on the contrary, it is significant for the altogether different reason that it overturns much of our understanding of how representational media can function and what we can use them to achieve.

The Aesthetics of Virtual Reality will be of interest to scholars and advanced students working in aesthetics, philosophy of art, philosophy of technology, metaphysics, and game studies.

 

 

 

Journal Article: Ludic Unreliability and Deceptive Game Design

 

Stefano Gualeni and Nele Van de Mosselaer have a new paper out in the online first issue for Journal of the Philosophy of Games. This is the abstract:

Drawing from narratology and design studies, this article makes use of the notions of the ‘implied designer’ and ‘ludic unreliability’ to understand deceptive game design as a specific subset of trans-gressive game design. More specifically, in this text wepresent deceptive game design as the delib-erate attempt to misguide players’ inferences about the designers’ intentions. Furthermore, we argue that deceptive design should not merely be taken as a set of design choices aimed at misleading players in theirefforts to understand the game, but also as decisions devised to give rise to experien-tial and emotional effects that are in the interest of players. Finally, we propose to introduce a dis-tinction between two varieties of deceptive design approaches basedon whether they operate in an overt or a covert fashion in relation to player experience. Our analysis casts light on expressive pos-sibilities that are not customarily part of the dominant paradigm of user-centered design, and can inform game designers intheir pursuit of wider and more nuanced creative aspirations.

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.

Journal Article: Why So Serious? The Nature and Value of Play

Mike Ridge has another paper out, this time in Philosophy and Phenomenology Research. Here is the abstract:

In this paper, I develop an account of play and playfulness, argue it is superior to its rivals and investigate the value of play so understood. I begin by laying out some interesting semantic features of ‘play’ which have not previously been systematically investigated (section 1). A failure to note these distinctions can lead theorists (and has led them) into unwitting equivocations and confusions. Drawing on this broader semantic framework, I lay out and motivate a positive account of the meaning of ‘play’ and the nature of play full-stop (section 2). I then survey some of this account’s main advantages (section 3) and argue that the theory helps us better understand the value of play (section 4), where this value should inform both moral theory and political philosophy. I then compare the proposal with rival theories (section 5). I conclude by suggesting directions for further research.

Journal Article: How to Understand Rule-Constituted Kinds

An interesting paper about rule-constituted kinds was recently published by Manuel García-Carpintero in Review of Philosophy and Psychology.

Here is the abstract for the paper:

The paper distinguishes between two conceptions of kinds defined by constitutive rules, the one suggested by Searle, and the one invoked by Williamson to define assertion. Against recent arguments to the contrary by Maitra, Johnson and others, it argues for the superiority of the latter in the first place as an account of games. On this basis, the paper argues that the alleged disanalogies between real games and language games suggested in the literature in fact don’t exist. The paper relies on Rawls’s distinction between types (“blueprints”, as Rawls called them) of practices and institutions defined by constitutive rules, and those among them that are actually in force, and hence are truly normative; it defends along Rawlsian lines that a plurality of norms apply to actual instances of rule-constituted practices, and uses this Rawlsian line to block the examples that Maitra, Johnson and others provide to sustain their case.

Discussion Note: The Value of Value Capture, by Michael Ridge

A discussion note by Michael Ridge about gamification has recently been published in the “Online First” issue for Journal of the Philosophy of Games.

JPG is interested in pursuing the discussion note format, so please contact the editor if you have an idea for a discussion note about emerging issues in the philosophy of games.

The abstract:

Gamification, roughly the use of game-like elements to motivate us to achieve practical ends “in the real world,” makes large promises. According to Jane McGonigal, gamification can save the world by channelling the amazing motivational power of gaming into pro-social causes ranging from alienation from our work to global resource scarcity and feeding the hungry (McGonigal 2011).  Even much more modest aims like improving personal fitness or promoting a more equitable division of household labour provide some license for optimism about the ability of gamification to improve our lives in more humble but still worthwhile ways.  On the other hand, Thi Nguyen has argued that there is a dark side to gamification: what he calls “value capture.”  Roughly, gamification works in large part because it offers a simplified value structure – this is an essential part of its appeal and motivational power.  However, especially in the context of gamification which exports these value schemes into our real-world lives, there is a risk that these overly simplistic models will displace our more rich, subtle values and that this will make our lives worse: this is value capture. The point is well-taken.  The way in which number of steps taken per day can, for an avid user of “FitBit,” displace more accurate measurements of how one’s activities contribute to one’s fitness is a compelling example.   If I become so obsessed with “getting my 10,000 steps” that I stop making time to go to the gym, jog or do my yoga/pilates then that is not a net gain.  However, there is an important range of cases that Nguyen’s discussion ignores but which provide an important exception to his critique:  value capture relative to behaviours that are addictive and destructive.  Here I have in mind things like alcoholism, drug addiction, and gambling addiction.  With these kinds of activities, value capture can not only be good but essential to a person’s well-being because (and not in spite of) of its displacement of the person’s more rich, subtle values.  Interestingly, the point is not limited to cases of addictive behaviour, though they put the point in its most sharp relief.  Any situation in which making rational decisions one by one can leave one worse off than “blindly” following a policy which is itself rational to adopt also turns out to illustrate the point, thus further expanding the role for value capture as itself a force for good.  The more general point is that certain kinds of sequential choice problems carve out an important and theoretically interesting exception to Nguyen’s worries about value capture.  In these kinds of choice contexts, value capture not only does not make our lives go worse, it may be essential to making our lives go better.

 

Journal Article: Videogame Cognitivism

The latest online first issue of The Journal of the Philosophy of Games includes a paper on “Videogame Cognitivism” by Alexandre Declos (Collège de France).

Abstract: The aim of this article is to examine and defend videogame cognitivism (VC). According to VC, videogames can be a source of cognitive successes (such as true beliefs, knowledge or understanding) for their players. While the possibility of videogame-based learning has been an extensive topic of discussion in the last decades, the epistemological underpinnings of these debates often remain unclear. I propose that VC is a domain- specific brand of aesthetic cognitivism, which should be carefully distinguished from other views that also insist on the cognitive or educational potential of videogames. After these clarifications, I discuss and assess different broad strategies to motivate VC: propositionalism, experientialism, and neocognitivism. These map the different ways in which videogames can prove epistemically valuable, showing them to be, respectively, sources of propositional knowledge, experiential knowledge, and understanding. I eventually argue that neocognitivism is a particularly promising and yet underexplored way to defend VC.

The paper is available here : https://journals.uio.no/JPG/issue/view/415

Zoom talk this Evening: Exemplification of Spatial Concepts through Computer Games by Prof. Dr. Stephan Günzel

Dear all,

today we are meeting at the seminar of the Laboratory for Computer Games Research to discuss spatial concepts in computer games. The speaker Prof. Dr. Stephan Günzel (University of Europe for Applied Sciences) will present a talk: “Exemplification of Spatial Concepts through Computer Games”. Seminar will be held online via Zoom, here is a registration form to join the event: https://forms.gle/VYq3HnAy9nCz1SfdA The seminar starts at 18.18 (GMT +3).

P.S. We are really sorry for posting the anouncement so late. We will glad to see you at the seminar!