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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.