Thursday, October 11, 2007

Play by Play

There were more panels about game studies that I would have expected at the Society for the Social Studies of Science conference, since issues about play, recreation, and leisure would seem to be -- at least on the surface -- profoundly separate from those governing scientific inquiry or even the social context in which scientific scholarship is situated. So I was surprised to see so many familiar faces at "Ways of Knowing Within and Through Games and Play," which was moderated by supercool game studies critic T.L. Taylor.

Doug Thomas who "plays a university professor on the USC server" explored questions of place, space, and geography and interrogated some of the claims made by the educational games movement in a talk on "Blurring the Boundaries Between Worlds: Conceptual Blending in Virtual Worlds." In particular, Thomas looked at the issue of transferability and the problems with making simple assertions when affordances often go to the group not the individual and when much of scientific literacy -- as Constance Steinkuehler has argued in her research on young gamers' discourse -- is constituted by demonstrating rhetorical mastery such as marshaling evidence or delivering timely rebuttals. Although Thomas said that "making potions" doesn't transfer to knowledge in the real world, he does look at the circuit of information, technology, and place functions in game environments so that communities of interest, networks of practice, and co-presence function together in ways analogous to scientific sociality.

Also in the line-up was Shira Chess, who like many in game studies, has turned her own mother into an experimental subject. Unlike the author of "Warrior Woman," Chess's mom requested "a nice shopping game" as a game that women might like, thus bringing up many issues about feminism, leisure, and play. Chess pointed out that much of the discourse about women and games from the industry -- even from "gender inclusive" sources -- pointed to plainly contradictory assertions: 1) women like mindless casual games, 2) women like social games, and 3) women like narrative-heavy story games.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just saw Rendition and the Meryl Streep character looks exactly like you Liz Losh. It's very amusing.

I can't have been the first person to notice this.

I kept wanting her (Meryl Streep) to shut up about justifying torture and stuff and just go "hey hey everyone check out this new video on youtube it's hilarious LULZ".


3:23 PM  

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