Issue date: 25 June 2003

ISSUE DATE: 25/06/03
14 – 15 July The Watershed Media Centre, Bristol

Academics at the University of the West of England are to hold a two day conference on the subject of computer games and whether they reflect or subvert the politics of society at large.

The School of Cultural Studies (UWE) is one of the country’s leading centres for academic research into the emerging field of new media and computer and video games. UWE hosted the first ever academic conference on the study of computer games in the UK, ‘Game Cultures’, two years ago, and since then there have been several international conferences, the launch of an academic online journal (http://www.gamestudies.org/) and several books are already in press.

The symposium is a small scale but international event, intended to maximise discussion and debate - there are a limited number of panels and workshops with plenty of time for less formal exchange of ideas. The symposium will be of interest to those concerned with the significance of play in popular culture and media in general as well as those with a particular interest in computer games. This year’s symposium is being hosted by the Play Research Group, formed after the 2001 conference, based within the School of Cultural Studies.

Chair of the Play Research Group Jon Dovey says, “There has been an explosion of academic interest in the study of computer games since our 2001 conference. This time we wanted to move the debate forward by looking at a more specific area. A lot of academics and people in the industry have spent considerable time thinking about how we understand computer games, trying to understand what’s going on when we play them and why they have become such an enormous industry. However we felt that not too many people had so far been thinking about how computer games reflect or even subvert the politics of society at large – that’s the theme for our two days of discussion.”

Jon Dovey says new theoretical frameworks and approaches are needed to study computer games, “These games and their gameplay are at once new media, new technological and aesthetic forms, and new activities and pleasures. However computer and video games emerge from existing economic, technological and social networks – they reflect the forces that underpin the contemporary world. As such their study offers unique insights into emerging relationships of consumption, play, new media technologies and structures of social and economic power.”

Further details can be found at: http://www.power-up.org.uk


Editor’s notes

Full details of the conference can be found on the website at: http://www.power-up.org.uk
Conference speakers:
Barry Atkins - ‘We are having fun, Aren’t we?’
Piotr Sitarski -‘Why do I play and cannot stop? Pleasures of computer games’
Geoff King -‘Playing geopolitics: Ideology in inter-action in Command and Conquer: Generals and Black Hawk Down’
Rune Klevjer - ‘Cyborgian parody: Work war and play in the single-player First Person Shooter’
Beverley Newman - ‘Why is cheating in computer games a key site?’
Julian Kücklich - ‘Forbidden Pleasures – Cheating in Computer Games’
Seth Giddings - ‘Circuits’
Suzy Gordon -‘Reading play in the work of Melanie Klein: Dogs, dolls and daughters’
Helen Kennedy -‘Feminism ‘In’ and ‘At’ play: Female Quake Clans and the Politics of Subversion’
Tanya Krzywinska - ‘Demon Girl Power: Regimes of Form and Force in Primal and Buffy’
Gareth Schott and Siobhan Thomas -‘Locating and Studying Girl Gamers’
Neil Thomas - ‘An amusing Bureaucracy: The Modern Video Game as Anti-parable’
Graeme Kirkpatrick - ‘The computer game and the public sphere; Intimacy, publicity and legitimacy in the networked society’
Andrew Mactavish -‘Game Mod(ifying) Theory: The Cultural Contradictions of Computer Game Modding’
Diane Carr and Andrew Burn -‘MUDS, signs and a work in progress’
Paul Catanese - ‘Where have all the video-game artists gone?’
Charles Kriel - ‘Designing the Real’

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