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Present Paper And Party

The Present, Paper, and Party event is for graduate students and others to present drafts of papers they are presenting elsewhere this summer. These conference notes were written while listening to the papers so they are incomplete.

"That's Nice, Dear, but it still isn't Art"

Sean Gouglas presented reflections on the 2009 Game Developers Conference

  • Do games have to be art? Is that the way to legitimize games?
  • Roger Ebert wrote that videogames could not be art. The nature of the medium prevents it from being art.
  • Clive Barker argued for art that - art can be malleable.
  • The problem is that games are defined by their interactivity. To become art they have to lose the interactivity.
  • Is telling better stories the way to better games? Ico, Planetscape torment, Portal, are examples.
  • How much story do you need depends on the structure of the game. Minesweeper doesn't need a back story. You can provide a back story, but it isn't really part of the game.
  • Sean argued that paradigms of storytelling should be used for games and he argued for learning from narratology.
  • Characterization in games tends to be poor.
  • Less is more. In games you don't explain things - the player figures it out.
  • Scope of conflict. Do all games have to be about saving the world. See Storyteller:
  • Show, don't tell. Cut scenes are showing.
  • Relevance. Make games relevant to broader audience.
  • The Atari 2600 solved the problem of family play and cooperative play. They recreated the tavern arcade experience.
  • Adaptation is more important than innovation.
  • ARGs like "I love bees" and PacManhattan

Some reflections:

  • Does characterization have to happen in the game? How much are games part of larger fiction which might have the back story?
  • Do we need to ask if games are art? Did anyone ask if board games or sports were art?

Are Videogames Games?

Geoff Petrie presented on definitions of games. He takes a "ludology" approach of looking at games as games in order to understand videogames.

  • Is it possible to define videogames in the face of Wittgenstein's giving "game" as an example of something that can't be defined.
  • Geoff argues that we should abandon essentialism about "games" and just look for connections between what we call games.
  • For W. we can draw boundaries for a "special purpose" - what then is the speical purpose of defining games?
  • Early definitions of games have it as an activity. Newer definitions have it as rules, code, software - the object that is played.
  • The new school is more interested in the structure rather than the activity.
  • Monopoly is both object and the playing - games-as-activities vs. games-as-objects.
  • According to Suits games are gloal-directed, rule-governed, and autotelic activities. This captures games like hockey.
  • Some additions Petrie wants to add to Suit's definitions are physics (which provides constraints), toys and pieces. Geoff wants to update Suits so that it works for videogames and can be compared to the ludologist's definitions.
  • Are game objects fictional? Can videogames be distinguished from other games using idea of fictional (virtual) objects?
  • What is the point of defining games? For Geoff his definition lets us be more precise about what we are talking about and, more importantly, it lets us evaluate aesthetic or moral claims.
  • Could games be compared to sport?

Feminist Philosophy and Avatars

Jessica Moore talked about her approach to thinking about games.

  • What is it to be in a game? What does it mean to have an avatar?
  • Are videogames mostly designed by men (boys)?
  • Playing RPGs is a lot like drag (as opposed to trans.)
  • Is there a relationship between using your body as a tool and being in game?
  • Is there a difference between objectification in game and out?
  • Is gaming, like drag, a subversive act?

Jessica also talked about responsibility:

  • Who is responsible for a game and what goes on within it?
  • Is there a different levels of responsiveness/responsibility in the game industry?
  • If games are sexist, who do you blame?

Yelling at the TV

Andrew Keenan and Matt Bouchard presented about sports videogames.

  • There is a hierarchy of videogames with sports games at the bottom. No art there.
  • Sports games are the trashy novel of games. But they have really interesting game engines.
  • Andrew and Matt asked, Why are sports games good? Why are they bad? Can we bring in RPG elements to make them better?
  • Their view is that it would be easy to add RPG features to sports games and this would increase immersion.
  • Sports games have cheap immersion for free - if you are a fan of a team you get immersion - RPG elements would add an extra level of immersion.

Tell Me What Those Blogs are About

Alejandro Giacometti presented on a collaborative project that is looking at different ways of generating tags

  • Folksonomies are useful and they are cheap
  • Folksonomies lack semantic value, they are not consistent, and there isn't structure to them
  • Their project consisted in gathering a series of blogs and then they used various ways of adding tags. Expert tags by humans, Existing tags by bloggers, Generated tags using different algorithms.
  • Experts rated the different types of tags. They have yet to get the data.
  • They expect that different tags will complement each other.

Mashing Texts

Peter Organisciak presented on supporting collections level text analysis.

  • He described the Mashing Texts project that allows users to create collections of documents.
  • He described how there can be processes to import lots of documents into a collection and processes for exporting.
  • He described a design process of identifying personas, scenarios, wireframes, and graphics.
  • Some of the issues are, how do we support very different uses?



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