SPACES AND EMBODIMENT IN GAMES AND VIRTUAL WORLDS
9th July, 2014, Room 826, Institute of Education, Bedford Way, London.
Talks by Alison Gazzard, Diane Carr and Andrew Burn with invited speakers Tom Apperley and Seth Giddings. This seminar, jointly presented by MODE and DARE, attracted an audience of students, educators, researchers, academics and designers of games and virtual worlds.
Games and virtual worlds, like the ‘real’ world, exist in space and time, but exhibit distinct features all their own. At the same time, such spaces are inhabited by virtual bodies which also, while echoing certain features of embodiment in the physical world, behave according to distinct rules and conventions. This seminar applied selected theories of space, time, embodiment and multimodal design to account for these specificities.
The work draws on Diane Carr‘s AHRC Fellowship dedicated to the representation of disabled bodies in games; on research in multimodal methodologies as part of the MODE project, and on research in DARE (Digital|Arts|Research|Education). We were also pleased to have invited talks by Tom Apperley (UNSW, Australia) and Seth Giddings (UWE).
The day began with Alison Gazzard’s exploration of space as maze, drawing analogies between mazes in landscape design and the meanings of maze, pathway and labyrinth in digital games. She proposed ways in which path and maze walking enacted the rhythms of the body as metronome.
Diane Carr’s presentation argued the case for the interdependence of representations of ability and disability in horror games, and the interest this holds for disability studies. She also presented a timely review of theories of embodiment.
Andrew Burn presented an overview of multimodal approaches to game analysis, covering key concepts of mode, social semiotic meta function, modality and reading path. He then applied these to game adaptations of Macbeth by teenagers.
Tom Apperley presented a variety of ways of thinking about rhythm in games, from play rhythms in a specific game to rhythms of transnational play. This drew on ethnographies of gaming in cyber-cafes in Caracas and Melbourne, to discuss transnational cultural identities and rhythms of play within time zones.
Seth Giddings described his recent project to create a dance app in which participants can record their dance interpretations of 15 seconds of music provided by the app. He explored the relationship between the app’s design and anticipation of future dance events and the range of actual responses, from expert performance to self-deprecating improvisation. The project raised questions of dance as game, the nature of playful choreographed embodiment, and the relation between geo-located space and expressive movement.
10:30 Arrival (Tea and Coffee)
11:00 – 11:30
Paths, Possibilities and Places: approaches to thinking about space and time in videogames (Alison Gazzard, IOE)
11:30 – 12:00
What is disembodied play? A collective review and discussion of ‘games and embodiment’ literature (Diane Carr, IOE)
12:00 – 12:30
Multimodal approaches to games: designing space and action (Andrew Burn, IOE)
12:30 – 13:30
13:30 – 14:15
Gaming’s networked imaginary: Transnational rhythms and global citizenship (Tom Apperley, UNSW, Australia)
14:15 – 15:00
Configuring the 15-second Dancer: designing for embodied play (Seth Giddings, UWE)
Diane Carr is a Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at the IOE, University of London. Diane has published research on game interpretation and methodology, narrative and adaptation, gender and gaming preferences, learning in online game communities, and disability in virtual worlds. Her recent work (funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK, 2013) has focused on representations of ability and disability in horror and science fiction games. See http://playhouse.wordpress.com/ for more information.
Andrew Burn is Professor of Media Education at the Institute of Education, University of London. He is director of the DARE research centre (Digital|Arts|Research|Education), and of MAGiCAL projects, an R&D enterprise developing game-authoring tools for schools. He is co-author of Computer Games: Text, Narrative, Play. His most recent books are Making New Media: Digital Literacies and Creative Production (2009) and Children’s Games in the New Media Age (2014).
Alison Gazzard is a Lecturer in Media Arts at the Institute of Education, University of London. She has published widely on a range of ideas about play, game design, interactive media technologies and histories of games in journals such as Game Studies, Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies and Games and Culture. Her book Mazes in Videogames was published by McFarland in 2013.
Tom Apperley is an ethnographer that specializes in researching digital media technologies. His writing has covered broadband policy, digital games, digital literacies, mobile media, and social inclusion. Tom is currently a Senior Lecturer at UNSW, Australia. His book Gaming Rhythms: Play and Counterplay from the Situated to the Global, was published by The Institute of Network Cultures in 2010.
Seth Giddings teaches at UWE and is a member of the Digital Cultures Research Centre. His research addresses the theory and design of experimental and everyday media technoculture, particularly games, toys, and social media. His book Gameworlds: virtual media & children’s everyday play will be published by Bloomsbury this year.