From Under the Playful Mask
Souvik Friday, June 06, 2008The 'Under the Mask' Conference at the University of Bedfordshire is all set to begin. The joysticks, gamepads, mice and keyboards are at the ready; the players in position. To cap it all, the papers are all online, including one by yours truly. A quick skim through shows me that research on online multiplayer games is getting increasingly richer. 'Griefing' has been singled out for particular attention - with two papers providing a detailed analysis from different angles. Esther MacCallum-Stewart's paper reveals a whole new world for a non-MMORPG gamer like me (yes, that species exists). I didn't even think that a possible typology existed for 'griefing': ludic grief, social grief and spectacle grief. This is very illuminating and the 'deeper' levels of MMO gaming is well revealed in the analysis. Good grief, Esther! I didn't know that there are so many 'griefers' out there ...
Narratives, narratives ... yes, narratives ... games tell stories: now that is for sure. Many papers testifying to the fact, here. Pity, i didn't join the team having chosen 'becoming' and ludic philosophy of Deleuze (perhaps, I did take the storytelling aspect for granted - i have been doing so since I first started researching games). Particularly interesting for me are Anne-Mette Albrechtslund's paper on narrative in online games and Jan van Looy's on Alice. The first paper I have only just had time to glance at and since it's just after mine, I'll get to have a good listen, i think. It's the next that's even more up my street. Van Looy speaks on American McGee's Alice ... we say similar things. Visitors to my website will find two papers by me on the subject: one written in 2000 and the other one being more recent: my 'Brown Bag' presentation at Nottingham Trent University. Van Looy's work adds the novel dimension of viewing the game using 'Kendall Walton’s theory of representational artefacts as props for evoking imagining in games of make-believe.' Moreover, it does a pretty decent job of analysing the Alice narratives in different media.
There are thirteen solid papers and I haven't the skill to summarise them here. I can't help noting another very promising paper on onlookers of arcade games. The audience of gaming has always fascinated me ... somebody somewhere says that games don't have an audience ... I wonder. The papers can be accessed here and the direct link to mine is here.
Finally, Tanya Krzywinska's keynote presentation on 'Reanimating HP Lovecraft: The Ludic Paradox of Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth' looks very intriguing. Never had the chance to delve much into the Cthulhu mythos. Here's my chance.
My first paper on Alice are to be found on the London School of Journalism's website and the more recent one's to be found on my own website, here.
'Literature is a combinatorial game that pursues the possibilities implicit in its own material [...] but it is a game that at a certain point is invested with an unexpected meaning' - Italo Calvino