Thinking About Hybrid-identity and Hybridity

Sometime during my Master’s research, I started to really question whether or not my work was truly about ‘identity’ (in a traditional sense). Coming from Sociology, the term has a lot of baggage, and while I was talking about the player-avatar relationship, or what exists/develops between them, I was always hesitant to firmly stake it as “identity”.  (For an interesting read on moving past “identity” as a term, read Brubaker and Cooper’s “Beyond Identity“). But at the the time, and up until my PhD defense last month, identity was the closest term to what I was talking about.

During my defense, I was asked whether or not I was talking more about player-avatar ‘hybridity’ rather than a (hybrid) identity proper. In the moment, I was very open to consider this shift in terminology but did not have the time to reflect on what it would mean to my overall conclusions. It would surely solve the many many times I’ve had to explain that my work was not about THAT kind of identity (I do not address issues of gender, race, or conscious/purposeful development of selves as such). So after having a few weeks to think about it, I have come to the conclusion that my Master’s work was indeed about identity proper. In my MA, ‘hybrid-identity’ explained what  developed between the player and their avatar and this ‘hybrid-identity’ was upheld and sustained by a wide range of social aspects both within and external to MMORPG gameplay. My theoretical framework was focused primarily on interactions between the player and the gameworld (to various extents).

But thinking about my PhD work, focusing on single-player gameplay and player/player-character relationships within the larger networked process of play, I think it is not necessarily about ‘identity’ proper (as something that becomes distinctly separate  from both the player and the player-character) inasmuch as it is about a hybridity between the player and the player-character. In this, I agree with my committee member who posited the initial question. Now, I need to go back and really flesh this idea out before I can make any significant shift in terminology, but I think it is the right direction that will help me iron out some of the issues I had when using the term ‘identity’. I have a few ideas already on how to make the conceptual shift and am really happy to have new direction to bring my work to its next level.


Call for Papers: Meaningful Play 2012

A bit short notice on my part – but the deadline has been extended to July 28th. Full site here.

Whether designed to entertain or to achieve more “serious” purposes, games have the potential to impact players’ beliefs, knowledge, attitudes, emotions, cognitive abilities, physical and mental health, and behavior.

Meaningful Play 2012 is a conference about theory, research, and game design innovations, principles and practices. Meaningful Play brings scholars and industry professionals together to understand and improve upon games to entertain, inform, educate, and persuade in meaningful ways.

The conference will include thought-provoking keynotes from leaders in academia and industry, peer-reviewed paper presentations, panel sessions (including academic and industry discussions), innovative workshops, roundtable discussions, and exhibitions of games and prototypes.

Conference News

July 14, 2012 – Special Events Announced, including pre-conference talk with Constance Steinkuehler, Opening Reception, Poster Session, and Game Exhibition, Indie Game: the Movie screening and director panel, and Conference Wrap Up, Closing Keynote, and Lunch, and the Meaningful Play Game Room!

July 9, 2012 – Call for submissions deadline extended to July 28. Submit Paper, Panel, Poster, Roundtable, Workshop, and Game submissions now!

June 25, 2012 – Michael John, Ann DeMarle, and John Ferrara announced as remaining three confirmed keynote speakers. See program for details.

June 1, 2012 – Phaedra Boinodiris, Donald Brinkman, and Kurt Squire announced as first three confirmed keynote speakers. See program for details.

April 17, 2012 – The conference hotels are now available for booking.

January 20, 2012 – Registration is open for Meaningful Play 2012.

September 12, 2011 – We are excited to announce the upcoming Meaningful Play 2012 conference to take place October 18-20, 2012 on the campus of Michigan State University.

Conference Audience and Themes

The conference is primarily for:

  • industry and academic game researchers
  • industry and academic game designers and developers
  • game educators
  • students
  • government and NGOs interested in games

The two primary themes of the conference are:

  • exploring meaningful applications of games
  • issues in designing meaningful play

The first theme includes an examination of games (of all types) from primarily an academic research perspective.

The second theme focuses on much more practical knowledge from the front-line of actual design, development, and use of games for meaningful purposes.

Call for Papers: Collage Animation, Found Materials, and Experiential Effects

This might be of interest to some:

Since the early days of cinema, collage or cut-out animation has been an integral and continuous strand of media history. Hand-produced collage animation survives today – primarily among experimental filmmakers – despite the availability of digital animation technologies; at the same time, digital software allows for both the simulation of collage animation and the integration of collage and digital techniques. A number of scholars have examined the works of individual collage animators such as Harry Smith, Stan VanDerBeek, and Lewis Klahr, among others. This panel, however, seeks to address the broader question of the particular experiential effects generated by collage animation. In addition, it seeks to explore the intersection between collage animation and found footage filmmaking – both of which often involve the appropriation of preexisting audio and/or visual materials – as well as the persistence of collage animation and/or its aesthetics within digital contexts. Papers on, but not limited to, one of the following topics would be of particular interest:

· Collage animation and the production of affect

· The experience and appeal of “flatness,” particularly in light of the opposite tendency in other forms to attempt a 3-dimensional image experience.

· Recognizability and unrecognizability, i.e. the tension between recognizably appropriated images (and sounds) and their transformation as they are incorporated into a new text

· Collage animation and narrative (or non-narrative)

· The intersection between collage animation and found footage filmmaking

· The source materials of particular collage animators and animations and their transformation through their appropriation

· The use of digital technologies in the creation of collage animation or in approximating its aesthetics

· The works of individual filmmakers working in collage animation including but not limited to Harry Smith, Stan VanDerBeek, Hans Richter, Man Ray, Terry Gilliam, Larry Jordan, Lewis Klahr, Eric Patrick, Janie Geiser, Jodie Mack, Stacey Steers, Leslie Supnet, Robert Breer, Jeff Scher, Kelly Lynn Sears, Mary Ellen Bute, Frank Mouris, Jonesy, Martha Colburn, Kate Raney, and Michel Ocelot.

· South Park, Blue’s Clues, and other mainstream media texts that incorporate or approximate the aesthetics of collage animation.

Please send a title, a summary no longer than 2500 characters, 3-5 bibliographic sources, and a bio no longer than 500 characters to Jaimie Baron at by August 1.

Kelly Boudreau, PhD.

A bit late, but I successfully defended my PhD dissertation on June 29th! Although it has only been two weeks, it seems like eons ago already. The defense went well, it was a great mix of rigorous exchanges and academic camaraderie. It lasted just over 3 hours and I passed with excellence. A few minor tweaks (the dreaded typo of course!) and it will be submitted to the archives to sit on the digital shelf among the work of my peers. Although many people had said that when I was done, I would not remember much and that I would just want to take a break for a bit, I found myself excitedly recounting every detail for those who could not attend. So many suggestions and directions came out of the defense that all I wanted to do when I got home (besides having celebratory drinks) was to etch out some notes and get to work on the next phase.

Of course, I am not even sure what that really is at the moment, but for now, I am happily working with/for Dr. Mia Consalvo on great research on Facebook games and families, I am reading some work written by a new colleague I am planning to collaborate with in the future, and I am hoping to push beyond my comfort zone and take my research into new directions as suggested during my defense as I work on a post-doc application for the fall (government sponsored post-docs are due in October so best I get started, and find an institution and/or supervisor!). I am also working on some entries for a Video Game Companion (edited by Mark Wolf), and have dreams of reshaping my dissertation into a proper book. It has only been two weeks since the defense, but I have already started on some significant edits thanks to a meeting of great minds in Switzerland last week. Overall, while I don’t have a tenure track job lined up, I have a pretty good to-do list to keep me working happily through the summer as I work on my c.v. and keep my eye on the job market this fall.

All in all, I cannot complain. After 10 years leveling up, I finally made it to the end game, and lucky for me, the expansions keep coming!