Friday, April 04, 2008

The Play's the Thing

At the Play: Toward a Critical Concept conference today I gave a paper, "The Play's the Thing: The Arden Project and the Dilemmas of the Serious Games Movement." Slides are here.

I enjoyed meeting fellow panelist Jake Peters of USC who has similarly been thinking about the digital politics of "fun" with a focus on labor and space for play in a paper on the FOSS or "free and open source software" movement. Peters made connections to the contentions of Linux creator Linus Torvalds in his book Just for Fun, in which the title words can be taken as having more than one meaning, and to an article by Asef Bayat on "Islamism and the Politics of Fun." The panel also included Josef Nguyen's work on "playing as a character" vs. "playing as an avatar."

Peter Krapp was our respondent who raised issues about the opposition between "playing a game" and "playing with a game," along with the difference between "player knowledge" and "character knowledge," which could be important in a game about Shakespeare like Arden. I'm looking forward to guest lecturing in Krapp's collaboratively taught game design class (with Bill Tomlinson and Dan Frost) later this month about the theme of "failure" in game design.

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