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

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.

Three Journal Articles: “Games and the art of agency” and more

Three new journal articles in the philosophy of games have recently been published by C. Thi Nguyen.

First, “Games and the art of agency” (official version and free pre-print) has been published in Philosophical Review. This paper argues that games are the art form that works in the medium of agency. Game designers don’t just create environments; they design who we will be in those environments. Game designers designate goals and abilities for the player; they shape the agential skeleton which the player will inhabit during the game. And players often submerge themselves in an alternate agency, taking on alternate ends temporarily, for the sake of their aesthetic experience of struggling. Game-playing, then, illuminates a distinctive human capacity. We can take on ends temporarily for the sake of the experience of pursuing them. Game play shows that our agency is significantly more modular and more fluid than we might have thought.

Second, “Autonomy and aesthetic engagement” (official version and free pre-print) has been published in Mind. The paper applies the account of games from “Games and the art of agency” to offer a new theory of the value of art. Here is an old question from the philosophy of art: we seem to care about getting the right judgments about art, so why don’t we just defer to aesthetic experts? We seem to want more independence from our aesthetic lives than our scientific lives. The best explanation is that art is rather like a game. In games, we try to win, but often, winning is only the local goal, and not our larger purpose for engaging in the activity. Our purpose is to struggle to win for ourselves. Similarly, with art, we often try to get the correct judgments. But getting the right judgment isn’t our real purpose; our purpose is to engage in the activity of struggling to get them right. The paper then suggests a unified account of the value of art and games: the engagement account, where, often, the value of the activity comes not from achieving success, but in the activity of trying to succeed.

Third, “The right way to play a game” (official version) has been published in Game Studies. The paper argues, against some contemporary writers, that there are very good reasons to follow the rules of a game. Recent analytic philosophy of art offers a useful distinction between the material substrate of an artwork, and the artwork itself. An artwork isn’t the same as its material; it is the material as encountered according to certain prescriptions. You haven’t experienced Melville’s Moby Dick if you read all the words out of order; you haven’t experienced Van Gogh’s Irises if you closed your eyes and just tasted the canvas. Similarly, you haven’t encountered the artwork which is the game unless you play by the rules and pursue the specified goals. The paper suggests that there are two distinct interests: free play and aesthetic communication. And these interests often run contrary to one another. To play freely, you should ignore the rules. To receive aesthetic communications, you should play by the rules. Finally, the paper provides a taxonomy of game types in terms of their distinctive implicit requirements for an adequate encounter. Party games need to be played in the right spirit of silliness and low-skill competition. Heavy strategy games need to be played many times. And community evolution games, like Magic: the Gathering, need to be played while embedded in the live and evolving community meta-game.

Daniel Vella is the Third Confirmed Keynote for PoCG 2019

Dr. Daniel Vella is the third confirmed keynote speaker for the 13th International Philosophy of Computer Games Conference: the Aesthetics of Computer Games.

Dr. Daniel Vella is a lecturer at the Institute of Digital Games at the University of Malta, where he teaches classes in digital game studies, player experience and narrative in games. His research has focused on the development of theories of ludic and virtual subjectivity, on phenomenological and existential approaches to virtual world experience, on aesthetic theory and games, and on space and architecture in games. His work has been published in journals such as Game Studies, Countertext, the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research and Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology, and, most recently, in the edited volume Ludotopia: Spaces, Places and Territories in Computer Games (2019). He is also active as a writer and narrative designer for games, most recently working on the board game Posthuman Saga (Mighty Boards, 2019). 

For more information on this year’s conference, please visit our conference website.