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!

CfP: Philosophical Essays on “Uncharted” (Abstract deadline October 1)

This call might be of interest to some game philosophers. It specifically requests submissions of abstracts for “philosophical essays”.

 

Call for Papers – Uncharted [EXTENDED DEADLINE]

deadline for submissions: 
October 1, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Łukasz Muniowski
contact email: 

Abstracts are sought for a peer-reviewed collection of philosophical essays related to the Naughty Dog action-adventure video game series Uncharted (2007-2017). The essays should refer to the games that are considered the canon of the series: Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. As the production of the movie adaptation of the game has been once again put on hold, and it seems that Naughty Dog will not develop new entries in the series in the foreseeable future, a book of essays seems rather timely.

Uncharted was a groundbreaking series, which combined great characters, spectacular visuals, engaging puzzles, and captivating storylines to create a movie-like experience unlike that of any video game before it. At first, the game was dubbed “Dude Raider” – and indeed, it made its main character go to exotic locations, look for mythical treasures, and embark on other adventures reminiscent of Tomb Raider. In no time, however, Uncharted’s Nathan Drake was able to create identity dissimilar to that of Lara Croft. The character was portrayed as an everyman: he looked rather unimposing, yet was extremely smart, strong, and had an excellent aim. This dissonance created inevitable frictions between his likable persona presented in the cutscenes and in the game itself, as in the course of gameplay he shot multiple NPCs with no remorse.

All the games in the series followed a three-act structure similar to that of classic Hollywood movies, and at times, they were like interactive movies themselves. In a sense, they were the video game equivalent of the summer blockbuster genre. Throughout the years, the developers created numerous memorable sequences, such as the bar fight in Uncharted 4, the plane catastrophe in Uncharted 3, or the train derailment in Uncharted 2.

The series was already analyzed academically in regard to its violence, narrative, and gender representations. While these issues are worthy of further exploration, the game can also be discussed in the context of ideas such as: determinism, randomness, exploitation, orientalism, racism, tourism, civilization, continuity, consequences, war, addiction, white privilege, categorical imperative, or egotism.

Below are some quotes and questions for you to consider:

“Greatness from small beginnings” – is Drake’s social/economic/familial background to blame for his obsessive personality?

“It’s like a camera, you just point and shoot, right?” – why does the violence in the game come so frequently from unlikely characters?

“This is like trying to find a bride in a brothel” – can the series be regarded as sexist, or did its approach towards female characters change with time?

“Everything you touch does turn to shit” – how much oppression and damage does Drake actually cause (especially in the developing countries he frequently rampages through during his escapades)?

“You think that I am a monster, but you’re no different” – are the villains in the series significant? How are they different from its protagonists in terms of violence and chaos they create?

“You should play the hero more often. Suits you” – could Chloe turn into the true hero of the series in the future?

“You two can hold hands though” – how accurately does the game depict local customs and traditions? Does it exoticize and exploit them or represent them with respect and attention to detail?

“He would go to the ends of the world with you Nate” – is forming real-life bonds with NPCs possible?

“Why Nate? Why this obsession?” – the importance of Francis Drake for the story of the game

“Hey, are you happy?” – relationships, friendship, and family life in the series

“I don’t know why people get into video games” – do we really need an Uncharted movie?

“Same to you, cowboy” – how does Drake correspond with the cowboy archetype?

“A parasite who exploits our struggle in order to fatten her pockets” – how much of what the Uncharted’s heroes do is morally questionable?

“Nice work, partner” – what does the series teach us about cooperation?

Please submit abstracts of about 300 words with brief bios to: unchartedessays@gmail.com

Abstracts due: October 1st, 2020

Notification of accepted abstracts: October 5th, 2020

First draft of papers due: January 1st, 2020.

Final papers: 6,000 – 8,000 words

Łukasz Muniowski – holds a PhD in American Literature from the University of Warsaw, Poland. Co-editor of the collection of essays on the Altered Carbon Netflix series (Sex, Death and Resurrection in Altered Carbon, McFarland, 2020).

Kamil Chrzczonowicz –doctoral student at the Institute of English Studies, University of Warsaw, Poland.His academic interests include humor theory, history of American satire, and digital humanities.

Book: Virtual Existentialism – Meaning and Subjectivity in Virtual Worlds

Virtual ExistentialismStefano Gualeni and Daniel Vella have just published a new book on Palgrave’s Pivot imprint, treating the intersection of existential philosophy and virtual worlds.

How do experiences in (and of) virtual environments affect the ways in which individual human beings understand and attribute meaning to their own existence? Virtual Existentialism adopts a variety of scholarly perspectives in the combined attempt to understand and answer that question.

The book’s drive is twofold. It uses existential philosophy as a frame through which to understand and interpret the significance of virtual environments in the context of our existence. At the same time, it considers how our capacity to be in (and towards) these technologically mediated domains might lead to new understandings of the concerns of existential philosophy.

In this pursuit, Virtual Existentialism is firmly grounded, not only in philosophical works of existentialism and phenomenology, but also in philosophy of technology, virtual worlds research and game studies. articulates several perspectives from which virtual worlds can be understood as existentially (and even evolutionarily) relevant. Specifically, it claims that, in virtual worlds, human beings can reflect on their values and beliefs, take on new subjectivities, explore previously unexperienced ways of being, and take reflective stances towards their existence and their subjectivity in the actual world.

Virtual Existentialism introduces the notion of ‘virtual subjectivity’ to describe our being in virtual worlds, and discusses the experiential and existential mechanisms by which can move into, and out of, these virtual subjectivities. It also includes chapters containing focused engagement with the thought of Helmuth Plessner, Peter W. Zapffe, Jean-Paul Sartre and Eugen Fink, and their relevance to thinking through the existential significance of the virtual.  

The book should prove equally useful to scholars in philosophy, game studies, virtual worlds research and media studies. 

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: 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)

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