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.

Olli Leino is the Second Confirmed Keynote for PoCG 2019

Dr. Olli Leino is the second confirmed keynote speaker for the 13th International Philosophy of Computer Games Conference: the Aesthetics of Computer Games.

Olli Tapio Leino is an associate professor at School of Creative Media of City University of Hong Kong. His background is in computer game studies and philosophy of computer games. Building on insights from (post-)phenomenology and existentialism, he has written on materiality, experience, emotion, interpretation, and performativity in computer games and playable media. Has been the PI on numerous research projects, including “Existential Hermeneutics for Playable Media”, “All Work and No Play? Ideas and Realities of Gamification” and “From Game Arcades to eSports Arenas”, supported by Hong Kong General Research Fund. Olli’s publications include articles in Game Studies (2011), Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds (2016) and Games and Culture (2017). His texts have been translated into Polish (2017) and Brazilian Portuguese (2019). He is the co-editor of “Extending Experiences” anthology on player experience (2008) and Philosophy & Technology’s SI on philosophy of computer games (2014). He curated the “New Playable Art” exhibition (2014) for the IFVA Festival at Hong Kong Arts Centre. Olli earned his PhD (2010) from the Center of Computer Games at IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is a member of the “Ludic Boredom” collective.

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

Susanna Paasonen is the First Confirmed Keynote for PoCG 2019

Prof. Susanna Paasonen is the first confirmed keynote speaker for the 13th International Philosophy of Computer Games Conference: the Aesthetics of Computer Games.

Susanna Paasonen is Professor of Media Studies at University of Turku, Finland. With an interest in studies of sexuality, networked media, and affect, she is the author of NSFW: Sex, Humor and Risk in Social Media (MITP 2019, with Kylie Jarrett and Ben Light), Many Splendored Things: Thinking Sex and Play (Goldsmiths Press 2018), and Carnal Resonance: Affect and Online Pornography (MITP 2011). Susanna serves on the editorial boards of e.g. New media & society, Sexualities, and International Journal of Cultural Studies and is the PI of the Academy of Finland research project, Sexuality and Play in Media Culture (2017–2021) and the consortium, Intimacy in Data-Driven Culture (2019–2022).

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

Extension to CfP for the 13th International Conference on the Philosophy of Computer Games: The Aesthetics of Computer Games (St Petersburg, Oct 21-24)

Dear all,

Following a number of requests, the submission deadline for the 13th
International Conference on the Philosophy of Computer Games: The
Aesthetics of Computer Games (St Petersburg State University, Oct 21-24th) has been extended to Wednesday, 14th  August 2019, 23:59 BST.  Please send your abstracts to: http://review.gamephilosophy.org

Please note that the submission deadline for workshops and panels is Sunday,
25th Aug 2019, 23:59 BST. Please email me your proposal of up to 1,000 words (excluding references): feng.zhu@kcl.ac.uk

Warm regards,

Feng Zhu,
Program Chair

Introduction to the Center for Media Philosophy and the Laboratory for Computer Games Research

The Centre for Media Philosophy and the Laboratory for Computer Games Research are glad to be a part of the Double Game Philosophy Conference and to host  the Philosophy of Computer Games Conference 2019.

As we are approaching the deadlines for the conferences we would like to introduce ourselves a bit.

The Laboratory for Computer Games Research emerged in 2013 in Saint Petersburg (Russia) within Centre for Media Philosophy (the Institute of Philosophy, St. Petersburg State University).

Our team: Prof. Konstantin Shevtsov (head), Alexander Lenkevich (deputy head, organizer of the regular seminar of the Laboratory), Konstantin Ocheretyany (researcher, PhD), Margarita Skomorokh (researcher, game designer), Alina Latypova (researcher), Sergei Bugluck (researcher, game designer), Andrey Muzhdaba (researcher, editor of http://gamestudies.ru).

The Laboratory conducts researches based on the following topics: corporeality, interfaces, identity, subjectivity in computer games, computer games as a medium, language of computer games, counter-play and counter-gaming, glitches, masocore, etc.

Since 2013, the Laboratory holds a regular scientific seminar (organized by A. Lenkevich).

Important facts:

In 2013, the Laboratory together with a Centre for Media Philosophy organized the first Russian conference to be dedicated solely to the research of computer games: the all-Russian conference with international participation “Computer Games – the Theatre of Activity”. Other game conferences were held in 2014 and 2018 – “Computer Games as a Mode of Social Reality Constitution” and “Computer Games: Cultural Interfaces and Social Interactions”. Moreover, during 2013–2019 the Laboratory has organised various academic events, including panels, round tables, and workshops within other conferences in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Astrakhan, Vologda, Ulan-Ude, Copenhagen, Vilnius. Members of the Laboratory also participated in the international events on game studies: DiGRA 2018, the Philosophy of Computer Games 2018, Nordic DiGRA 2018, etc.

In 2014 and 2016, the Laboratory published two collective monographs: “Computer Games: Strategies of the Research” and “Game or Reality: the Game Studies Experience”. In 2019, it edited the volume on game studies in the International Journal of Cultural Research – “Computer Games: Game Design of Culture”.

 

The researchers of the Laboratory regularly publish articles concerning the analytics of computer games in indexed journals.

All the information can be found on the web page of the Laboratory: http://mediaphilosophy.ru/liki/

The Laboratory can be also followed on social media:
https://facebook.com/lab.liki/
https://vk.com/liki_lab

The Centre for Media Philosophy has been working since 2007 at the Institute of Philosophy at St. Petersburg State University. Director: Prof. Valery Savchuk; scientific secretary: Konstantin Ocheretyany, PhD. Researchers: Prof. Konstantin Shevtsov; Gulnara Khaidarova, D. Sc.; Daria Kolesnikova, PhD; Alexander Lenkevich; Alina Latypova, etc.

The Centre conducts annual conferences, edits books, and holds seminars on philosophy of media and other adjoining phenomena (visual ecology, photography, computer games, etc.). Moreover, the Centre regularly organizes various international and all-Russian conferences. We have established long-term relationships with colleagues from the Interdisciplinary Center for Historical Anthropology (Free University of Berlin), from Basel (Switzerland), Innsbruck (Austria), and Greifswald University (Germany), with the Catholic Center for Culture Semiotics and Media University of São Paulo (Brazil), as well as with colleagues from Serbia, Bulgaria, Belarus, and Ukraine. Over the past 10 years, a number of joint conferences have been held and several collective monographs have been published in cooperation with the Free University of Berlin.

The Centre publishes a book series “The works of the Centre for Media Philosophy”. Now it includes 14 volumes. The researchers of the Centre also published books and monographs on media, visual culture, the philosophy of photography, the philosophy of memory, the analytics of the mediated body, etc.

Within the framework of the Centre, two laboratories are working – The Laboratory for Computer Games Research and The Laboratory of Visual Ecology (organized by D. Kolesnikova).

In addition, a regular scientific seminar “Visual practices” is held. It emerged in 2001 due to the efforts of Prof. V. Savchuk, the organizer of the seminar. The secretary since 2012: A. Latypova.

The website of the Centre: http://mediaphilosophy.ru/
The Centre on Facebook: https://facebook.com/groups/mediaphilosophy

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.”

Book Chapter: Playing the Nonhuman – Alien Experiences in Aliens vs. Predator

Reconfiguring Human, Nonhuman and Posthuman in Literature and Culture is a new book from Francis &Taylor.  It collects different kinds of readings of the nonhuman in literature and other media.  I have a chapter in it titled Playing the Nonhuman, which approaches the theme from the perspective of the phenomenology of computer games.

You can read the abstract below and find a copy of the whole chapter from my website.

What is it like to play a nonhuman character? In his classic essay, philosopher Thomas Nagel (1975) argues that we are fundamentally unable to imagine what it is like to be a bat, because our senses and cognition are structured in a way that is uniquely human – whereas bats’ senses and cognition have a uniquely bat-like configuration. In spite of this, media genres from fantasy to science-fiction routinely strive to imagine and show what it could be like to be something other than human. What is more, different media achieve this effect by different means: literature provides textual descriptions, audio-visual media rely on moving images, and comics employ different kinds of multimodal compositions, as discussed in the previous chapter.

In the fifth chapter, Jonne Arjoranta continues investigating these medium-specific imaginations by examining how video games portray the nonhuman, what kind of assumptions they make about being nonhuman, and what kind of tools and techniques they use to convey the (imagined) experience of nonhumanness. The analysis focuses on Aliens vs. Predator (2010, Rebellion Developments), which features three different but intertwined campaigns that allow the player to play as a human, an alien, and a predator. The game thereby evokes two playing experiences that are supposedly nonhuman, and enables direct comparison between them and the “normal” experience of playing as human. The discussion around these playing experiences is further complemented with examples from other games that present playable nonhuman characters and, like the previous two chapters, draws theoretical support from the notion of embodied cognition.