Thanks and Acknowledgements

November 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Dear Friends, Colleagues and Gamers,

The inaugural Pioneer Valley Game Studies Colloquium from November 8-10, 2012 was a resounding success! The seminar brought together a diverse community of students, gamers, designers, scholars, and fellow travelers to present and debate research on games and game design.

On Thursday, November 8, 2012, Annika Waern (Stockholm University) discussed her new pervasive game Codename: Heroes at Smith College to an audience of 25. Despite the talk’s 80 minute length, the students listened with rapt attention and even made time for a few questions afterward.

Annika Waern (right) answers questions in Seelye Hall, Smith College.

On Friday, November 9, 2012, Evan Torner (UMass Amherst / Smith College) moderated and Katherine Castiello Jones (UMass Amherst / Mt. Holyoke College) upon five presentations given by game scholars and professionals from the area to an audience of 35.

The full podcast of the panel may be downloaded here: From Media Studies to Game Studies.

Jen Malkowski (Smith College) started the panel with “Press X to Look at Breast: Gender and the Investigatory Gaze in L.A. Noire,” which read the game in terms of its highly questionable gender politics as well as its ambivalent relationship toward cinema as a medium.

Jen Malkowski (Smith College) discusses La Noire at UMass Amherst.

The next presenter Zachary McDowell (UMass Amherst) looked at Fallout 3 in terms of theories of communication in the talk “Postal Mediation and Apocalyptic Game Studies.” McDowell posed questions about the revelatory nature of the apocalypse and its formal relations as enacted in a video game.

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Zachary McDowell discusses the game Fallout 3 at UMass Amherst.

The next presenter was communications professor William J. White (Penn State Altoona), who made the trip out to western Massachusetts for the colloquium. White’s talk “Character Is What You Are in the Dark: The Phenomenology of Immersion in Tabletop Role-Playing” honed in on the underrated aspects of role-playing game studies as game studies and articulated a theoretical bridge between the two fields. A focus on phenomenology appears to be something that many a discipline shares these days.

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Bill White talks role-playing game theory at UMass Amherst.

The following talk was given by Emily Care Boss (Black & Green Games), who addressed in “Role-Playing Games and Genre Analysis” the community of scholars as a designer concerned about rhetoric, discourse and genre. She discussed the games Apocalypse World and Final Girl in terms of their mechanical analysis of genre tropes.

Emily Care Boss speaks to the crowd at UMass Amherst.

The panel concluded with the talk “Ideas at Play: Teaching Game Design at Hampshire College” by Joshua A.C. Newman (Hampshire College) about the necessity to keep students motivated and constantly creating new game ideas.

Joshua A.C. Newman talks at UMass Amherst about teaching game design at Hampshire College.

The panel was followed with questions from Katherine Castiello Jones that led into a larger discussion about gender stereotypes and the ethics of game design, which brought out participants from the audience.

On Saturday, November 10th, the final event of the colloquium took place at Modern Myths in Northampton, MA: the signing of the recently released co-edited volume “Immersive Gameplay: Essays on Participatory Media and Role-Playing”. White, Jones, Torner and Boss all gathered to read excerpts from their chapters in the book to two dozen attendees, and stuck around to sign copies of the volume newly purchased.

The full podcast of the book signing may be downloaded here: Immersive Gameplay: Essays on Participatory Media and Role-Playing

Panelists talk about Immersive Gameplay at Modern Myths.
From left to right: William J. White, Katherine Castiello Jones, Evan Torner, Emily Care Boss. Photo by Kira Scott.

The discussions held throughout the three-day event were both invigorating and enlightening, particularly with regard to topics of gender, genre, pedagogy and immersion.

We are grateful for all the active participation and support, and look forward to the second iteration of this colloquium next fall!

Once again, we’d like to enthusiastically thank our sponsors for the opportunity to put this event together:

The Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies, Department of Communication, German & Scandinavian Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the Film Studies Program at Smith College, the Smith Science Fiction and Fantasy Society, ConBust and Modern Myths, Inc.

Game Studies Comes to Western Massachusetts

We are pleased to announce the first Pioneer Valley Game Studies Colloquium, a series of events concerning academic game studies held in Western Massachusetts from November 8-10, 2012. The goal of the colloquium is to showcase recent research and expose faculty, students and community members to this ever-expanding field of study.

Please inform and invite anyone you think might be interested to the events below:

“Pervasive Games in Stockholm”
November 8, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m., Seelye Hall 101, Smith College
A lecture by and discussion with Annika Waern (Stockholm University)

“From Media Studies to Game Studies”

November 9,  2 p.m. – 4 p.m., Thompson Hall 104, UMass Amherst
A panel on game studies projects moderated by Evan Torner (UMass Amherst / Smith College)
featuring the following short presentations:

• “Press X to Look at Breast: Gender and the Investigatory Gaze in L.A. Noire
Jen Malkowski (Smith College)

• “Postal Mediation and Apocalyptic Game Studies”
Zachary McDowell (UMass Amherst)

• “The Phenomenology of Immersion in Tabletop Role-Playing.”
William J. White (Penn State Altoona)

• “Role-Playing and Genre Analysis”
Emily Care Boss (Black & Green Games)

• “Ideas at Play: Teaching Game Design at Hampshire College”
Joshua A.C. Newman (Hampshire College)

“Immersive Gameplay: Essays on Participatory Media and Role-Playing”
November 10, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m., Modern Myths, Northampton, MA
A book reading and signing with William J. White (Penn State Altoona), Emily Care Boss (Black & Green Games), Evan Torner (UMass Amherst) and Katherine Castiello Jones (UMass Amherst)

This event is sponsored by: The Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies, Department of Communication, German & Scandinavian Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the Film Studies Program at Smith College, the Smith Science Fiction and Fantasy Society, ConBust and Modern Myths, Inc.

Inquiries can be directed to: etorner (at) german.umass.edu

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