CGSA 2009 – Day 2 – Morning Sessions

Session 1 -Readerly/Writerly Play

The first session of the day was (happily) at 10am – started with Jim Bizzocchi gave an animated presentation titled Close-Reading and the Poetics of Form in an Emergent Medium (unfortunately, his co-author Joshua Tanenbaum was not present). Essentially, a presentation on methods and processes of close readings – looking at the relationships between the game design, narrative, and gameplay, keeping a journal of observations under the categories of narrative, theme, gameplay, media. The game of choice – Oblivion. Looking at elements of performativity, and adaptivity of the game. In conclusion, Jim wrapped up giving the benefits

Close-reading coming from humanities based scholarship, it can

  • effective and versatility
  • reveal the poetics  of game and medium
  • Loosely or systematically

Overall, the presentation was interesting, unfortunately, as time was a factor, it had to be hurried through a bit towards the end.

The second presentation, by Diane Poulson (Bricolage and Emergent Gameplay) the discussion began with some introductory material on cut scenes, videogames, and interactivity. The presentation included ideas on the ways in which players alter game rules to re-author the gameplay and space. From here, she went on to discuss how players appropriate videogames for purposes other than gameplay – essentially, for pure artistic entertainment, (in the machinima spirit) making music videos around content and themes about the game. From machinima and add-ons, she continues to discuss the ways that players use outside elements and bring it into the games. Overall, it was an interesting (and entertaining – anyone who can sing a bar or two from a song during a presentation gets my vote for presentation of the day) overview of the tools and process of alternative uses of videogames from both within it, and external  elements.

Session 2 – Games and Communication

The second session focused on presenting two research groups and their work. Beginning with Maude Bonenfant, presenting the research group HomoLudens which focuses on socialization and communication in videogames, focusing specifically on the player experience. She presented the main research questions through field work in mmorpg’s such as which communication tools players use, do these tools influence the ways in which they communicate; questions on cheating; player interpersonal relationships etc. She presented the early findings and challenges that they faced as they worked through with the players they were researching as well as information from the second phase of their research. As they are now entering into the last phase of the research, analysis etc, Maude clarifies that while they are working with in depth interviews with well over 50 participants, they are not aiming to make any generalizations, but aim to understand the role and meaning of gameplay in mmorpg’s in the players lives.

The fourth presentation of the day brought Nick Taylor to the podium, with his presentation titled “Shots heard ‘round the world: Halo 3 goes global. The focus was on digital competitive gaming tournament – the professionalization of gaming as sport. He conducted an ethnography of players in Toronto who play Halo competitively from local practice tournaments completing with a large scale international conference and using Actor Network Theory to think about the interactions between the players to the technology in order to further understand the embodied activities of the players both inside and outside the gameplay. With great photo images and video footage of international gaming competitions, the presentation was both informative and entertaining, a great mix for a conference presentation if you ask me =)

Both sessions had great question periods, and some compelling replies to kick off a pretty decent lunchtime discussion. Off for lunch – will wrap up the last group of panels, which gets to great topics such as documentary/indexical issues in games, alternative play spaces, and identity in mmo’s.

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